The School of Oriental and African Languages (SOAS) Hans Rausing - ELDP has been host to Endangered Languages Week 2008 (30 April to 8 May 2008, SOAS, Russell Square, London, UK). Following the series of lectures, seminars, workshops and discussion groups the need for an integrated approach (inter alia, to data) has become apparent and the following is proposed (the author(s) of these jointly edited documents are listed - click History tab).

Proposal for an application of (1) community-networking (software) and (2)collaboratively-edited documentation to the case of endangered languages Edit

Notes: (1) in virtual community-networking, the community can be spread geographically, e.g. language diasporas. (2) an open-text, open-sourced, jointly-edited, intellectual-commons platform / journal / database / archive for endangered, threatened, diglossic languages.

The concept: To bring Web2.0 technology / opentext collaborative multimedia editing to aid endangered language documentation and revitalisation.Edit

It is thought that this approach can be particularly relevant to language shift on urban migration and to rural areas with access to (for example) mobile phones.

The editorial boardEdit

An editorial board would have ultimate responsibility for:

  • The level and classification of articles (currently self-classified), including that which is considered published.
  • The reversion and/or deletion of ‘vandalised’ text (currently done by wikia administrators).
  • The protection of privacy and copyright.

The editorial board would have as representatives / voice for the main actors in the ‘language revitalisation project’ including consultants (endangered language groups), linguists, local ngo’s, trusts and language foundations, activist groups, governmental language support, international bodies (UNESCO etc) . . .

Direct testimonyEdit

The database should / would have the facility for ‘direct testimony’.

  • The journal would have a guided pathway from ‘direct testimony’ input to collaboratively-edited, refereed articles.

Aspects of Web2.0 technologyEdit

Articles would benefit from Web 2.0 technology (have multimedia facilities: sound, video etc and reference to GIS (geo / spatial) variables

Initial researchEdit

The initial research would have as its objective the opening of ‘stubs’ for all known languages. (Footnote: a stub is the initial text of what is intended as an open-text or collaboratively edited document)


The platform (database) would/should be hosted by (at least three) national libraries or other bodies that have statutory duties regarding the permanent conservation of and ‘inter-generational legacies for’ publications.

Likely problemsEdit

The projects success would depend on motivating voluntary editors / contributors and limited by access to technology on the ground / in the field e.g. recorders / mobile phones / internet.

Trial websiteEdit

A trial or pilot website will be posted as soon as feasible and a discussion forum linked to that would form one of the routes for taking the project forward.

This document is effectively an invitation to join a consultation network / working group to bring forward the proposal. Following the Endangered Languages Week at SOAS contact can be maintained through the forum at this website discussion tab above).

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