Google Joins Project To Save Endangered Languages

Google is helping with a project designed to preserve at least some record of as many as 3,000 languages threatened with extinction:

More than 3,000 languages are on the verge of extinction and Google is trying to do something about it.

Collaborating with scholars, researchers, and language communities, the Web giant launched the Endangered Languages Project today, backed by a coalition called the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity. Through the project Web site, people can learn about the Earth’s endangered languages and see what kind of documentation is being created to preserve them.

The diverse languages range from Navajo, which is spoken by only 120,000 people in the Southwest U.S., to Koro, a previously unknown language that was documented in the northeast mountains of India, to Aragonese, which is now spoken by less than 10,000 people on the French border of Spain. An interactive map on the Web site shows that nearly every country in the world has lost languages, including 83 in Guatemala, 149 in Myanmar, and 113 in Sudan.

It’s estimated that as many as half of the languages currently spoken on Earth will be effectively extinct by 2100, most of them being languages spoken by small groups in remote parts of the world. At least from an historical and linguistic point of view, the possibility of being able to preserve these languages, their grammar and how they sounded when spoken would seem to be a very worth while project. After all, there was a time when Latin was spoken a large portion of the populated world only to die out with the collapse of the Roman Empire. Outside of the Roman Catholic Church, which probably doesn’t really provide us with a very accurate picture of what Latin was like circa A.D. 100, we really have no idea what it sounded like when it was a living language.

Here’s a video explaining the new project:

H/T: Geek Press

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook