Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Keeping the Tower of Babel from Falling

How? With Google's Endangered Language Project.

From a story in the New York Daily News...

The project's website provides this statement on its aims: "The Endangered Languages Project, is an online resource to record, access, and share samples of and research on endangered languages, as well as to share advice and best practices for those working to document or strengthen languages under threat."

A world map provides visual aid, with dots representing endangered languages, in their area of origin. Clicking on a dot, such as the one for Tsakonian, opens a page with a description, samples, guide and activity for the language. It also has a classification of the language's vitality, determined based on the number of speakers worldwide. Tsakonian's 1,200 speakers make it a “threatened” language. Social media links are provided on the page, inviting users to "spread the word and help raise awareness" for the language through Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook.

It has already received and posted submissions, under the categories of language documentation, language learning, technology and personal statements. Languages that are relatively well-known but still considered endangered, like Yiddish, should garner a fair amount of attention. Time will tell if the more obscure languages' speakers will support their tongues on the site.

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