SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics

Documentation and description of endangered languages

It is generally accepted that half of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken on Earth are likely to cease being spoken within this century. The Department of Linguistics at SOAS is an internationally recognised centre for research and teaching on endangered languages across the world. Its MA programme in Language Documentation and Description was established by the Endangered Languages Academic Programme, which ran at SOAS from 2003 to 2015 as part of the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project. This MA aims to train new generations of linguists to document and support endangered languages. Staff and students are working on issues in documentation and description of threatened languages in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Siberia, Asia-Pacific and Latin America. The Department houses the Endangered Language Documentation Programme, which provides grants for language documentation and awards approximately £1 million a year in research grants to high-quality projects. The Endangered Languages Archive in the SOAS Library was hosted in the Linguistics Department from 2005 to 2015. It is an innovative, comprehensive digital archive which acts as a major international resource for scholars, communities and other interested people.