Google to Eventually Turn Project Over to Language Experts

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2012-06-21 Print this article Print


By recording endangered languages using YouTube, participants can preserve spoken languages for anyone to learn, hear and share, Rissman said. "That can be a great way to share your language with your kids."

The effort was ripe for organizing because thousands of people around the world are already preserving and working on endangered languages but often are not collaborating to the fullest because they are doing their work on their own, Rissman said. "This can be a tool to help bring those people together. We feel that our contribution of technology is really just the start, but this is being driven forward by a coalition of endangered language experts and dedicated communities around the world. That€™s what is needed."

The languages project is being supported by a new coalition, the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity, which will provide storage, research, advice and collaborations to assist in the efforts. The Alliance includes a diverse membership of groups, including the Alaska Native Language Archive, Association for Cultural Equity, CBC Radio, Center for American Indian Languages, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, First Peoples€™ Cultural Council, Grassroots Indigenous Multimedia, Indigenous Language Institute, Laboratorio de Linguas Indigenas, Universidade de Brasilia and The Endangered Languages Catalogue team at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Google will eventually turn the project over to others who are "true experts in the field of language preservation," the blog post stated. When that happens, the project will be led by the First Peoples' Cultural Council and The Institute for Language Information and Technology (The LINGUIST List) at Eastern Michigan University.

The issue of disappearing languages has been a global concern for years. In 2007, University of Alaska Fairbanks professor emeritus Michael Krauss spoke about the issue at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, according to a story by

Over the years, humans lose sections of their languages as the populations of groups of people dwindle, Krauss said in his presentation.  He compared it to losing sections of the Earth's biosphere due to pollution and other factors. "I claim that it is catastrophic for the future of mankind," Krauss said at that meeting. "It should be as scary as losing 90 percent of the biological species."

Preventing the loss of languages should be important to us all, he said. "Every time we lose (a language), we lose that much also of our adaptability and our diversity that gives us our strength and our ability to survive."


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel