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Google-sponsored project aims to document dying languages


An Ayta elementary student works on her assignment on a roofless classroom at an elementary School at Porac, Pampanga, north of Manila. Spoken by just 3,000 people in the hills northwest of Manila, Ayta Magindi is one of several dozen of endangered languages in the Philippines.


Noel Celis

The Endangered Languages Project was launched Thursday by Google to document dying languages.

The project was created in cooperation with numerous universities and linguistic organizations in order to document and save over 3000 languages that are considered endangered.

There are currently seven thousand languages in the world and it is believed that half of them could disappear within the century, reported PC World.

The website will use Google technology such as Maps, YouTube and Google Groups to document and become a research clearinghouse for the languages.

"People can share their knowledge and research directly through the site and help keep the content up-to-date," wrote Clara Rivera Rodriguez and Jason Rissman, project managers for The Endangered Languages Project, according to Sci-Tech Today.

"A diverse group of collaborators have already begun to contribute content ranging from 18th-century manuscripts to modern teaching tools like video and audio language samples and knowledge-sharing articles."

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The languages range from Assiniboine spoken by fewer than 150 people in parts of Alberta, Canada, reported the Globe and Mail, to Poitevin, spoken only a handful of elderly villagers in the center of France.

The idea is to have those who speak and study these languages record them, discuss them and build movements to grow their speakers.

"Technology can strengthen these efforts, by helping people create high-quality recordings of their elders (often the last speakers of a language), connecting diaspora communities through social media and facilitating language learning," read a blog post on, the company's charitable arm.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Google will hand over responsibility for the project to the First People's Cultural Council and the Institute for Language Information and Technology at Eastern Michigan University in a few months.