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WP2. Task 3. Critical thinking of the issues concerning endangered languages



  • Assessment of the development of the new sub-discipline on endangered languages, twenty years after its launching
  • Development of this sub-discipline in France through the European consortium 3L, in coordination with an international worldwide network
  • Articulation on the specific difficulties of doing fieldwork on endangered languages, with their ethical and methodological dimensions, with reflexion on training and support
  • Contribution of new technologies, such as speech recognition, to the documentation of endangered and generally under-resourced languages



It has become imperative to integrate the fact of language endangerment in fieldwork practices for linguistic description and documentation, since the phenomenon will affect more and more severely the thousands of languages yet to be attended to (Grinevald 2007). 
The ANR AALLED (2007-10) channeled the introduction of the new sub-discipline of endangered languages (description, documentation, archiving, revitalization or DDA+R) in France, through strong international links. While AALLED focused on Latin America, Africa, and the Rhône-Alpes region, the new program LED TDR (langues en danger: terrain documentation revitalisation) opens up to other parts of the world and brings attention to communities demands of support to revitalisation.
Focusing on necessary endangered language work faces the challenge of a bottleneck widespread ignorance of the challenging difficulties in fieldwork on endangered languages. The ASLAN linguists emphasize the need for extensive training for this high risk fieldwork and appropriate support (academic, financial, personal), particularly for junior linguists more likely to invest in such work, as the high cost in time and money for such work is not acknowledged or known.


Description of work

  • Development of an updated tool for the evaluation of the level of vitality of languages in  concert with the UNESCO
  • Development of a typology of situations of endangered languages, to design appropriate interventions of linguists in the description, documentation and revitalization of endangered languages
  • Development of new technologies of speech recognition, to facilitate documentation of endangered languages
  • Organization of biannual summer schools with the 3L consortium (in Lyon in 2012) and participation to international CTLDC consortium


Criteria of achievement

  • Integration of the dimension of endangered language specificities in language description and typology
  • Training of new generation of field linguists for work on endangered languages
  • Participation in developing schemas for appropriate roles for linguists in revitalization projects