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Google Project Aims to Help Save Endangered Languages
June 23, 2012

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Online search giant Google has offered a tool to help prevent the disappearance of hundreds of languages.

The Endangered Languages Project provides facilities for helping preserve the rich history of languages such as Aragonese, Iranxte, Navajo, Onondaga, Koro, and many more, including many other Native American languages. Linguistics experts estimate that of the nearly 7,000 languages spoken today, almost half of them will disappear in the next few decades because the only known speakers will die without teaching it to anyone else.

The site lists languages in four categories: At Risk, Endangered, Severely Endangered, and Vitality Unknown.

Languages that lose all of their native speakers are called "dead languages." If no one living speaks a language, that language is said to be extinct. Ancient Greek is considered a "dead language" but not extinct because it is still known and studied. Hittite, on the other hand, is extinct.

Current estimates are that about 95 percent of the people on Earth speak one or more of only 400 languages and that the other 5 percent speak more than 6,500 other languages.

The Google site provides a recording facility and also file-sharing, including audio and video. The site also provides a social network of sorts in that researchers of a particular language can discover other, previously unknown, researchers on similar topics.

The project is run by the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity, tin conjunction with the Catalogue of Endangered Languages. Representatives of the advisory committee live all over the world.

 

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