Google sets out to save dying languages

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SAN FRANCISCO: Google on Wednesday set out to save the world’s dying languages.

In an alliance with scholars and linguists, the Internet powerhouse  introduced an Endangered Languages Project website where people can find,  share, and store information about dialects in danger of disappearing.

“People can share their knowledge and research directly through the site  and help keep the content up-to-date,” project managers Clara Rivera Rodriguez  and Jason Rissman said in a Google blog post.

“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.”    The website at endangeredlanguages.com is designed to let users upload  video, audio, or text files and encourages them to memorialize recordings of  rare dialects.

Only half of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken today are expected to  survive past the end of this century, according to an Endangered Languages  video posted at Google-owned video-sharing venue YouTube.

 “Documenting...languages that are on the verge of extinction is an  important step in preserving cultural diversity, honoring the knowledge of our  elders and empowering our youth,” Rodriguez and Rissman said.

“Technology 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.”   

Google’s philanthropic arm seeded the project, leadership of which will be  ceded in coming months to the First People’s Cultural Council and the Institute  for Language Information and Technology at Eastern Michigan University.


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