The situation with projects focussed on the documentation and support of endangered and minority languages is starting to look, well, endangered, if not downright moribund.
Apparently, Unesco shut down its project on endangered languages within the intangible cultural heritage area towards the end of last year. Volkswagen Foundation held its last DoBeS grants committee meeting in February, and the project will wind up in 2014 when the current round of grants come to an end. The Sorosoro project based in Paris seems to have ground to a halt last December (the last news update on their website is 14th December 2011).
And today comes the news that after six and a half years devoted to working enthusiastically to present linguistic diversity as part of the world’s cultural pluralism Linguamón-House of Languages will cease its activity in two days time, following the decision in December last year by the Government of Catalonia and the Barcelona City Council to shut it down. As a member of the Linguamon International Scientific Committee this comes as a great disappointment.
At the upcoming 3L Summer School in Lyon there is to be a 20th Anniversary Conference (“1992-2012: twenty years of research on language endangerment”) looking at what has happened to the field of endangered language studies since the landmark 1992 symposium at the Linguistic Society of America. Looks like the participants should start penning some funeral dirges if things keep going along as they have in the last few months!
Update: On a more optimistic note, Gabriela Pérez Báez reminds me that the Smithsonian Institution’s Recovering Voices project “is actively growing and building its infrastructure and extending its reach”. I can also mention that the University of Iceland (Háskóli Íslands, Reykjavík) has established the Vigdis International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding as a Category 2 centre under the auspices of UNESCO and with support from the Government of Iceland. Building works have begun, and the new centre will feature space and activities for the promotion of minority and endangered languages. The Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project at SOAS was recently given a 10-year Review and under the leadership of Professor Anne Pauwels over the next six months we will be putting in place plans for the future of the project. Watch this space.