With languages disappearing at an unprecedented rate, linguistic experts are predicting that over 3,000 of the world’s approximately 7,000 languages will become extinct in the next 100 years. As a result of this problem, Google has partnered with the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity and launched the new Endangered Language Project website to combat the extinction of languages. Through the use of technology and project collaboration, Google is attempting to create a comprehensive database with relevant statistics, high-quality audio recordings, and other information that will help preserve each of the endangered languages.
Clara Rivera Rodriguez and Jason Rissman, Project Managers for the Endangered Languages Project, wrote the following on the Google Blog:
“Today we’re introducing something we hope will help: the Endangered Languages Project, a website for 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 the languages in the world) is an important step in preserving cultural diversity, honoring the knowledge of our elders, and empowering our youth.”
The website provides users with an interactive map that visually depicts languages that are in danger of extinction. The languages are represented by green (at risk), orange (endangered), or red (severely endangered) colored dots located on the map. When a user clicks on one of the representative dots, an informational page displays the language’s name, approximate number of native speakers, and audio samples of the language. In addition, people who are fluent in a language or have linguistic expertise are encouraged to become project contributors.
Although Google is overseeing the initial development and launch of the Endangered Languages Project, the long-term goal is to transition the project to linguistic experts, educational organizations, and cultural non-profits that can ensure the long-term success and preservation of the dying languages.