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June 22, 2012

Google launches website to save thousands of endangered languages

The search web engine giant has launched the Endangered Languages Project in an effort to prevent over 3,000 languages from disappearing.

By Tineka Smith

Experts project that only 50% of the languages alive today will be spoken by the year 2100.

The Endangered Languages Project is an online resource to record, access, and share research and cultural information about endangered languages.

The project seeks to protect languages like Navajo from Native Americans, Koro from the mountains in Northeast India spoken by only 4,000 people and other languages like South-western Obijwa and Aragonese.

Endangered languages project

"Documenting the 3,000+ languages that are on the verge of extinction (about half of all languages in the world) is an important step in preserving cultural diversity, honoring the knowledge of our elders and empowering our youth," said Clara Rivera Rodriguez and Jason Rissman, project managers for Google’s Endangered Languages Project, on Google’s blog."Technology can strengthen these efforts by helping people create high-quality recordings of their elders (often the last speakers of a language), connecting diaspora communities through social media and facilitating language learning."

The Project is supported by a new coalition along with support from the Alliance for Linguistic diversity which gives users a place store, research and share advice on preserving languages.

Although Google has a key role in developing and launching the project the company plans to allow language preservation experts like the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) and The Institute for Language Information and Technology (The LINGUIST List) to take the lead.

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"By bridging independent efforts from around the world we hope to make an important advancement in confronting language endangerment," said Rodriguez and Rissman. "This project’s future will be decided by those inspired to join this collaborative effort for language preservation. We hope you’ll join us."

Please follow this author on Twitter @Tineka_S or comment below.

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