Foundation for Endangered Languages

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5. Allied Societies and Activities

Call for participation in Voices of the World - an international media project on endangered languages

Voices of the World (VOW) aims to build international awareness of the diversity of mankind through a world-wide documentary film and media project. We want to portray the peoples of the world, giving face and voice to each culture and empowering every language community to speak.

The goal of VOW is to strengthen our global mutual belonging. VOW is an international non-profit initiative of UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassador for Languages Mrs. Vigdis Finnbogadottir, based on an original idea by the internationally acclaimed filmmaker Janus Billeskov Jansen, supported by the Danish Government, the UN and by leading linguists from all over the world.


Our first task is to create a media event in connection with UN’s 60th anniversary in October 2005.

All the Nordic public service TV stations are committed to this broadcast. We are presently working on similar arrangements with other international TV-stations. In order to make this a truly global event we want to invite YOU to participate in creating key elements of the central documentary film – Voices.

Voices will tell the story of the linguistic loss the world is suffering from the threat of language endangerment. The film takes its point of departure in a personal talk with UN Sec.-Gen. Mr. Kofi Annan, in his own mother tongue Fante, expressing his concerns for cultural and linguistic diversity. But the main elements of the film are to be based on YOUR contributions. We seek case stories, which pinpoint the stages from language endangerment to language death. We look for storytellers who can explain what it feels like to loose one’s language.


We aim to include material from as many different languages as possible inthe film, but we have a limited budget. Thus we are looking for local contributions.

You can participate in three different ways.

1. you can submit new material.
2. you can submit material already recorded.
3. you can send us contacts to speakers of endangered languages. We are looking for charismatic storytellers who can tell moving personal stories to the world in their own language. The issues to be covered are:

1. The language generation gap – how does it feel to live in a family where grand parents and grand children find it hard to communicate, because the language of the older generation was not passed on?

2. The last speakers – how does it feel to be among the last few speakers of a language?

3. Language suppression (economic, social, political, cultural) – how do people cope with situations, when their language is not given space in the public sphere? What does it mean to a community, if their language is forbidden or drained of resources?

4. Language and technology – how are speakers of endangered languages affected by globalization and the new information technology?

We are also looking for success stories such as:

5. Language revitalization – how did a particular endangered language community manage to turn the situation around and revitalize their language?

6. Other vital language issues? – YOU might come up with something brilliant, which we were not even able to conceptualize – given the limitations of our language…

If you want to participate in “Voices”, please start by sending us an email introducing yourself, your language or the language you are engaged with. Please also describe your contribution and in what way you would like to collaborate with us. We will then send you more information about the project, more specifications of what we are looking for and technical requirements.

Contact: Voices of the World
Project manager: Signe Byrge Sørensen
mailto:byrge at
Forbindelsesvej 7; 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel: +45 35 43 60 43, Fax: +45 35 43 60 44

Request for Course Syllabi: Language Death, Endangerment and Revitalization

Date: 29-Jul-2005
From: Chiara Frigeni cfrigeni at

As part of a project being carried out by the LSA Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation, we are collecting information on courses on language death, language endangerment, and language revitalization.

If you have taught a course in these areas in recent years and are willing to share your syllabus, we would greatly appreciate it. If you agree, your syllabus will become part of a website of teaching resources on these topics. Please send this information to Tanya Slavin at tanya.slavin at

New courses in Language Endangerment at Monash University A number of new postgraduate courses in Language Endangerment Studies will commence in the Monash University Linguistics Program in 2006.

The courses are designed for people who are involved in, or aspire tobecome involved in work with minority endangered language groups. They offer professional development at four levels, ranging from a Masters in Linguistics to a Postgraduate Diploma and Graduate Certificate. Interested applicants who have not completed high school may commence study at Faculty Certificate level. Students in Language Endangerment are required to be affiliated (or develop an affiliation) with a language community or organisation which is engaged in language maintenance. The newly developed units in each course aim to provide linguists, language maintenance practitioners and speakers of minority languages with specialist training in both the theoretical and applied aspects of language documentation and language maintenance for endangered languages in the particular social and political contexts in which they are spoken.

Australian and international applicants are welcome to apply. The courses can be taken full-time or part-time, either on campus or off-campus by distance education via web based study.

Further information is available at or by contacting Margaret Florey (the Course Coordinator) by email at Margaret.Florey at or by phone on +61 (0)3 9905-2237.

Trafford Publishing pledges $1.6 million for endangered languages

(Victoria, Canada / Oxford, UK / Gaborone, Botswana) Over 6,500 indigenous languages around the world are severely endangered. With the last remaining native speakers of many dialects dying each year, one publishing company is pledging over $1.6 million to help in the global race to document and teach these languages to youth.

The donation by Trafford Publishing is being announced today to over 800 delegates from over 80 countries gathering at WITFOR 2005, a UNESCO- and European Union-sponsored conference in Botswana, convened to discuss ways to give access to technology to those in the developing world.

Have them write books, urges Trafford Publishing. Now over 3,000 independent authors publish their books each year with the company whose main offices are in Victoria, Canada and Oxford, England. Books are printed 'on-demand' one at a time to fill orders from bookstores and individuals, with most orders placed on the Internet.

Trafford is pledging to underwrite approximately $1,600,000 in publishing costs over the next ten years. The programme will make available primers for school children, dictionaries and local stories -- one book will be published in each of 650 endangered languages.

Trafford has already published primers in 10 Canadian aboriginal endangered languages, and is sponsoring urgent work to document an endangered language in Namibia.

Batchelor hopes the magnitude of Trafford's pledge will bring attention to the situation and encourage donations in equipment from hi-tech manufacturers.

"Some communities really need a few key tools to document their language and then plug into the best revival practices. An iBook, iPod, microphone, digital camera, solar battery charger, a week's on-site technical training -- those would be part of the most basic linguistic rescue kit," says Batchelor, listing the sponsorship possibilities.

Trafford's gift was prompted by a request by Bothas Marinda of Namibia to have a book published in his community's language. Peter Brand of First Peoples' Cultural Foundation, a Canadian non-profit which will be helping Marinda, passed along the idea to Batchelor who didn't want to limit this to only a few first nations or tribes.

Brand and FPCF Executive Director Tracey Herbert are making the pledge announcement on Trafford's behalf at the conference during a presentation about, pioneering language revitalization technology developed by the foundation. Aboriginal groups from 5 continents are using or preparing to use web-based dictionaries that hyperlink to pictures and the sound of each word being pronounced. Brand's team can convert standard PC keyboards for typing aboriginal characters which can be printed on most laser or inkjet printers in the international Unicode font standard. is a set of web-based languages archiving and teaching resources, developed by First Peoples' Cultural Foundation -- a Canadian-based Indigenous non-profit society, based in British Columbia. Recent exposure for at international conferences in Canada, Japan and now Botswana are raising the profile of the unique language tools, originally developed for the 198 First Nations in BC. The invitation to showcase in Africa acknowledges the successful development and implementation of a made-in-Canada technology solution developed by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people.

Based on retail pricing applicable to the various currency zones, Trafford's pledge is worth approximately $1,656,850 Canadian dollars or $1,266,850 US or 1,202,500 euro or 876,850 UK pounds.

Indigenous language teams can access publishing services by contacting Peter Brand at peter at The First People's Cultural Foundation is developing criteria to determine which groups will benefit from Trafford's donation of 65 publishing packages per year for 10 years.

Bruce Batchelor, Trafford Publishing, 2333 Government Street, Suite 6E Victoria, BC, Canada V8T 4P4
+1 250-383-6864
bruce at