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Official opening of The Language Archive in Berlin
Languages evolve, change and expire. Due to globalisation, migration and innovation, languages are rapidly disappearing. To prevent the loss of valuable data for linguistic and cultural research, a language archive has been developed, containing 80 Terabytes of data from more than 200 languages across the world. On October 11, a new unit called The Language Archive (TLA) will be officially opened at the Berlin Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (BBAW) to intensify the efforts.
October 10, 2011Languages evolve, change, and expire. Globalisation, worldwide migration and technological innovation have speeded up this process considerably in recent years. At present, there still remain around 6500 languages throughout the world, but most of them will probably not have any speakers left within some generations. This certainly applies to 'small' languages that have less than 100.000 speakers: at least 80% of all languages belong to this category, while their speakers make up only 0,2 % of the world's population.
Secure linguistic and cultural richness
This changing process, however, also applies to 'larger' languages, like German, which is quickly losing its position as an international language. We cannot prevent this from happening, but we can at least try to secure the linguistic and cultural human richness from vanishing, and enable its systematic research.
Largest database in the world
In recent years, in the context of documentation of endangered languages (DoBeS, a programme started by the German Volkswagen Foundation in 2000), comprehensive data of endangered languages have been collected from all over the world. These data are stored at the digital archive at the MPI for Psycholinguistics and made available by a series of tools. The results of these initiatives, combined with comprehensive language corpora of numerous other scientists, will be entered into the Language Archive, which is primarily supported by the Max Planck Gesellschaft (MPG), Berlin Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (BBAW) and Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW). The archive is one of the largest linguistic databases in the world, containing 80 Terabytes of data from more than 200 languages. In future, the newly established unit named TLA will take care that the database will be systematically extended, made available and connected to other language databases across the world.
See also this link to TLA.