U. of Cambridge Web Site Aids Study of Endangered Languages

December 12th, 2010

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U. of Cambridge Web Site Aids Study of Endangered Languages

Office du JerriaisMinority Languages

The Chronicle of Higher Education:

The Endangered Languages Database, which was unveiled by the University of Cambridge on Thursday, is a free online portal that provides access to recordings, documents, maps, and other files relating to 3,524 world languages. The resource has been developed by researchers at the World Oral Literature Project, which is based at the university, and its developers hope to broaden its scope by crowdsourcing information from around the world.

Users can search for information about a language based on the number of speakers it has, its level of endangerment, or the country or region where it is or was spoken. With estimates that more than half of the 6,500 languages that are spoken today will be extinct as spoken languages by the end of the century, the database is bound to expand quickly.

Britain alone accounts for 20 languages, including Cornish, Guernésiais, and Jèrriais, the version of the language spoken by just 2,874 people on the neighboring island of Jersey, as well as the now-extinct Old Kentish Sign Language.