In a post on the Official Google Blog, Google today outlined the work it has done on a new initiative called the “Endangered Languages Project.” In partnership with the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity, Google put together a new website with the goal of allowing people to “find and share the most up-to-date and comprehensive information about endangered languages.”
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. 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.
As part of the project, the website will allow people to upload content to help document over 3,000 languages that are on the brink of extinction. Google gave an example of materials that have already been uploaded to the website, including: “18th-century manuscripts to modern teaching tools like video and audio language samples and knowledge-sharing articles.” The post also noted the project will aid people in creating and uploading “high-quality recordings of their elders (often the last speakers of a language),” which allows communities to connect through social networking and provide tools to facilitate language learning.
Going forward, Google will allow a number of organizations already involved in preserving the dying languages to run its project:
Google has played a role in the development and launch of this project, but the long-term goal is for true experts in the field of language preservation to take the lead. As such, in a few months we’ll officially be handing over the reins to the First Peoples’ Cultural Council (FPCC) and The Institute for Language Information and Technology(The LINGUIST List) at Eastern Michigan University. FPCC will take on the role of Advisory Committee Chair, leading outreach and strategy for the project. The LINGUIST List will become the Technical Lead. Both organizations will work in coordination with the Advisory Committee.
To learn more, visit Google’s Endangered Languages Project website.
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