SOAS University of London

Linguistic diversity in Middle East and North Africa explored at SOAS

7 May 2014

Endangered languages in the Middle East and North Africa will be explored at a conference at SOAS, University of London next week, as part of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) and the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR), to raise awareness of the dramatic loss of linguistic diversity around the globe.

Each year both the ELDP and the ELAR reach out to the public and to the academic community to raise awareness about the dramatic loss of linguistic diversity around the globe.

Endangered Languages pic
Taleshi speaker Rustaa Capazaad (pic by Gerardo de Caro)

This year, the ELDP and ELAR joint one-day conference will present their work on 14 May in the Brunei Building. Talks include ‘Documenting a religious minority: the Dari dialect of Kerman’, ‘Is there really gender language disparity in a conservative society?’ and ‘And what if, 100 years on, school is not enough? Western Armenian in Lebanon as a model of language maintenance and the challenges for schools’.

Guests will be able to browse the catalogue, listen to recordings of Central Neo-Aramaic spoken in Turkey, speak to language documenters working in Iran, Turkey, Oman, Algeria, Egypt and Lebanon and learn how languages become endangered in this part of the world.

Director of ELDP Dr Mandana Seyfeddinipur said: “The speed of modern development will lead to the alarming loss of about half of the 7,000 languages spoken today by the end of this century. Many of these dying languages have never been recorded or described which means that they are vanishing without a trace.

“ELAR and ELDP are trying to stem the tide by supporting the documentation, preservation and dissemination of endangered languages across the globe. This year we are highlighting the situation of endangered language communities in the Middle East and North Africa.”

The event is free to attend - visit the Endangered Languages Project website for more details.