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Practical applications of the Endangered Languages Project

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Title: Practical applications of the Endangered Languages Project
Authors: Simpson, Sean
Issue Date: 28 Feb 2013
Description: The Endangered Languages Project (ELP) website, launched in June of 2012 and available online at, is the result of collaboration between Google and the Catalogue of Endangered Languages (ELCat).

The purpose of the Endangered Languages Project is two-fold: 1) to provide the most accurate and up to date statistics, information, and vitality assessments for the world’s endangered languages, and 2) to provide a space where users can share audio, video, and textual samples of their languages, connect with one another, collaborate, and share their experiences. Broadly, these purposes correspond to two different (although not mutually exclusive) audiences: 1) professional linguists and researchers, and 2) community member stakeholders and speakers of endangered languages.

The goals of this paper are to demonstrate how both these audiences can use the ELP site to their advantage, and to stimulate discussion about how the website may be improved in the future to further benefit speakers, community stakeholders, and researchers of endangered languages. Specific features of the ELP site and their applications are examined, with particular attention given to:

• Unique tools the ELP site provides endangered language researchers, such as the Documentation Index, levels of certainty associated with vitality assessments, and the language guide tab.
• Features geared towards facilitating discussion, collaboration, and the dissemination of information among endangered language speakers and community members, such as the language material (‘samples’) upload function and the linkage of language specific Google Groups to individual language pages.
• Examples of how the ELP site has already been put to use for documentation, revitalization, and instructional purposes.

Both the ELP website and the ELCat database are works in progress, not yet fully completed. The paper concludes with an assessment of how successful the ELP site has been so far in reaching the two audiences indicated above, whether users have been taking advantage of all the functions of the site, and ways in which may be improved in the future to maximize utility to speakers, community members, and researchers of endangered languages alike.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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