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June 23, 2012, 9:47 am UTC
We may not know how to speak Italian, French, Spanish fluently, but most of us know who to greet in these languages. Widely known greetings like Hola, Hallo, Bonjour, Ciao instantly helps us gel in that country’s culture. Now, how many of us know how to greet in Aragonese, Navajo or Ojibwa?
Wondering what these are? These and thousand other languages are dying in the world right now. Though more than 7,000 languages are spoken throughout the world today, researchers believe half of those will fade over the next century. Do you know Koro is a language only just discovered in a tiny corner of Northeast India?
Google.org, the philanthropic wing of Silicon Valley technology giant Google Inc has taken an initiative to prevent endangered languages from vanishing forever through the initiative called 'The Endangered Languages Project’. The search engine giant aims to use to the latest technology to encourage communication between people familiar with languages on the verge of extinction and create a comprehensive database that preserves the language forever.
“Today we’re introducing something we hope will help [preserve languages on the brink of disappearing: the Endangered Languages Project, a website for people to find and share the most up-to-date and comprehensive information about endangered languages,” wrote Clara Rivera Rodriguez and Jason Rissman, project managers of Google’s Endangers Languages Project, in a blog post.
Google collaborated with the University of Hawai'i at Manoa and Eastern Michigan University to compile research on the 3,000 languages at risk of dying out, and each language's profile includes results drawn from Google Books.
Google further said the move to create database of the 3,000+ endangered (3054) languages would help in preserving “cultural diversity, honouring the knowledge of our elders and empowering our youth”. Google hopes technology helps people familiar with such languages communicate more and preserve them as well.
The project is being backed by a new coalition, the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity, will give people interested in preserving a language, a dedicated place to store and access research – as well as building collaborators.
Google is no stranger to foreign language as Google Translate is offered in 57 languages and search offered in more than 40.
The long-term goal of the project is for “true experts in the field of language preservation to take the lead” from Google and collaborate with other interested parties.
At endangeredlanguages.com, users can upload video, audio, or text files and are encouraged to memorialize recordings of rare dialects. Google seeks contributions from the experts in the field of language preservation.
Through the site, Google is encouraging people to make and share recording of native speakers. They also want diaspora communities to get in touch with one another to share language learning. It features videos and an interactive map. The curious can click on any one of the dots that hang over each country, each representing a whole language.
The site classifies languages in three categories, endangered, severely endangered or vitality unknown.
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