Over the last decade, we have worked with hundreds of people dedicated to endangered language documentation around the world. From the remote corners of Arunachal Pradesh in India, to the jungles of Papua New Guinea and the Amazon, we have been collaborating with incredibly perseverant individuals who are fighting to conserve their indigenous languages, which are being replaced by dominant languages. We have made some of the first digital recordings of dozens of endangered languages, and we want to empower communities to do their own long-term documentation.
Every two weeks, the last fluent speaker of a language passes on, and with that person goes literally hundreds of generations of traditional knowledge encoded in their ancestral tongue. Nearly half of the world's languages are likely to vanish in the next 100 years. We need to find a way to counter this sharp drop in linguistic diversity on our planet. We have met many language activists who need computers and equipment to be able to record their vanishing languages, and we want to help them.
At the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, we are a small and dynamic team with a low overhead. We coordinate big long-term projects (such as Talking Dictionaries and the Language Hotspots Database) on a modest budget. Our goal in 2012 is to support language activists around the world and provide them with the equipment they need to record their own cultural legacy and create new media in their own languages. The recordings will create an new online presence for these languages, and will help future generations revitalize their languages.
What is a Language Technology Kit?A Language Technology Kit (LTK) consists of a laptop computer, a handheld digital audio recorder, a still digital camera and a portable video camera. The LTK is a great tool that will help dedicated native speakers document, maintain and revitalize their native languages. LTK recipients will receive training from media specialists and learn how to operate these devices, use related software and manage their digital workflow. Budget-wise, we estimate that, including logistics and training, each LTK costs approximately USD $3000 to provide to an endangered language speaker. Since we are seeking to raise money for 8 kits, our goal is to raise a total of USD $24,000.
We have provided a number of LTKs to language activists in remote areas over the past few years and have seen them achieve great success by typing up and publishing their first books locally, producing their own videos in their languages and posting them online, and creating audio archives used in community schools. Please see our photo gallery (in tab above) to see some of the past recipients in action.
In donating to this campaign, you are giving indigenous language activists access to digital equipment that will help them document their languages. We will be giving the kits to dedicated individuals who are already working hard to conserve their languages in their communities.
With the money we raise, we aim to provide Language Technology Kits to 8 recipients, one speaker from each of these 8 endangered indigenous languages:
- Mongsang, Liangmai Naga and Mao Naga, languages spoken in Manipur State, India;
- War (Waar), spoken in Megalaya State, India;
- Sümi (Sema) Naga, spoken in Nagaland, India;
- Panim, spoken in one village in Madang province, Papua New Guinea;
- Tsesungun (Huilliche), an Araucanian dialect spoken in Mapuche communities in Osorno, Chile;
- Yanesha, spoken in the southcentral Peruvian Amazon.
Other Ways You Can Help
Do you know a company or individual who would be willing to make in-kind donations of technology, for example PC laptop computers, audio recorders or digital cameras? Please get in contact with us. Help us spread the wordand post this link in your social networks!
Living Tongues Institute