Google helping to save 3,000+ languages from extinction

Google has planted a seed for the Endangered Languages Project, a coalition of linguistic experts trying to save thousands of at-risk dialects worldwide.

Google has gotten involved with the Endangered Languages Project, an initiative to document and prevent the extinction of more than 3,000 languages worldwide. That's estimated to be about half of the languages in the world.

Some of the languages that the project is trying to prevent from being lost to history include Native American dialects from the Midwest and more than a few hundred throughout the Pacific Islands.

Clara Rivera Rodriguez and Jason Rissman, two project managers for the Endangered Languages Project, explained on the official Google blog that this venture is unique in that it gives people interested in preserving languages an online place to store, access, and collaborate on their research.

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. Members of the Advisory Committee have also provided guidance, helping shape the site and ensure that it addresses the interests and needs of language communities.

The project leaders added that new technologies are making this happen because they "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."

Initially, Google has been involved in the development and launch of this project. But in a few months, the Internet giant will be stepping back and let language preservation experts and groups take the lead. Those groups include First Peoples' Cultural Council (FPCC) and The Institute for Language Information and Technology (The LINGUIST List) at Eastern Michigan University.