LINGUIST List 13.2026

Sat Aug 3 2002

FYI: Funding for Endangered Langs Documentation

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. info, Endangered Languages Project

Message 1: Endangered Languages Project

Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 12:08:18 +0100
From: info <>
Subject: Endangered Languages Project

Press Release

To help explore and record linguistic diversity across the globe, a
British foundation has provided �20,000,000 over ten years to
create an international scholarly program to study endangered

The scale of the funding is commensurate with the urgent--and
enormous--threat to the world's linguistic diversity. Many of the
languages that will be studied are linguistic isolates. All are very
nearly extinct. They have never been adequately analysed or recorded,
and they are typically spoken only by a few elderly people. These
languages--and their speakers--deserve to be remembered, and to take
their place in history. At the same time, this worldwide project to
preserve crucial knowledge about the world's linguistic heritage will
vitally illuminate the history of how humanity settled the earth.

The Lisbet Rausing Charitable Fund aims to support research in the
humanities and the social sciences. This grant, together with other
family benefactions amounting to many millions of pounds, is intended
by the Hans Rausing family to help British universities maintain the
highest standards of academic scholarship.

When deciding to secure the participation of SOAS in this program--a
process that took many months of consultation--the Fund's trustees
expressed the greatest confidence in the achievements and potential of
the School, and in enthusiasm and dedication of its scholars and
leaders. The trustees were impressed by the fit between their own
profound concern at the threat to knowledge of linguistic and cultural
diversity globally, and SOAS's long-standing and distinguished study
of small languages in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere. The
Fund's trustees also share with SOAS a commitment to the highest
ethical standards when co-operating with small language communities--
people who are often marginalized and dispossessed.

Part of the grant will underwrite an academic programme within SOAS,
utilising SOAS's staff and facilities. It will train field-workers and
deepen knowledge of endangered languages through specially designed
courses in field linguistics generally and endangered languages in
particular as well as by co-ordinating scholarly activity, publicity
and consultation in the field. But the bulk of the fund will be
administered by SOAS to provide grants to scholars throughout the
world to document and analyse endangered languages.

Professor Colin Bundy, Director and Principal of SOAS, voiced
unqualified delight at the news of the award. "SOAS was founded in
1916 as a specialist institution for the study of languages in Asia,
and later in Africa. We created the first British linguistics
department (in 1932) and our Library was identified in 1961 as a
national resource for the study of Africa and Asia. Our history,
mission and ethos equip us for this visionary project." He stressed
that in addition to the School's regionally defined departments
concentrating on language and culture its range of disciplinary
departments - such as anthropology, history, linguistics -
offered a rich opportunity for becoming a world leader in the
documentation and study of endangered languages.

SOAS and the Fund together will underwrite the infrastructure to
manage this grants programs. This means that other families,
foundations and companies that would like to donate to this cause,
will have the security of knowing that 100% of their money goes
directly to the recording and study of nearly extinct languages. The
costs of research and documentation to ensure that full knowledge of a
language and its use are preserved will vary, but the average is about

For information on making a donation, as well as all general
enquiries, please conatact Mary O'Shea at SOAS on 07898 4075 or

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