ELAR update

As of this week the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) at SOAS has 52 online deposits available comprising around 51,000 files. There are 12,700 data bundles in the online collection, of which 6,000 are available to any registered user and a further 5,000 require access approval from the depositors. The number of users is now 515 with one or two people registering (via this web form) each week.

Recently we have been looking in the cupboards around SOAS and uncovering some interesting and valuable materials that we are digitising and hope to be adding to our online collection in ELAR. For example, one cupboard contained two tin cases with a set of 78rpm vinyl recordings of Zuaran Berber from eastern Lybia recorded by T.F. (Terence Frederick) Mitchell (1919–2007) in the late 1950’s. One of the speakers on the records is probably Mr. Ramadan Hadji Azzabi (cf. Mitchell 1953:28), who was T.F. Mitchell’s research assistant and who studied with him in London. Some of the recordings are conversations and these were published in Mitchell 2009. British Academy post-doctoral researcher Lameen Souag remarks that:

“Zuaran Berber is spoken only around the town of Zuwara in northeastern
Libya. While its status has recently been improved by the removal of
Qaddafi, its small population and the national and regional dominance
of Arabic should qualify it as “threatened” at the least. I’m not
aware of any work on whether the language is being retained; such
research has been quite impossible for the past fifty years or so.”

Bernard Howard, the Linguistics Department technical officer, has digitised the Zuaran Berber materials and we are investigating adding them to the collection in ELAR.

It will be interesting to see if there is material on other endangered languages in the SOAS cupboards.


Mitchell, T.F. 1953. Particle-Noun Complexes in a Berber Dialect (Zuara). Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 15:375-390.
Mitchell, T.F. 2009. Zuaran Berber (Libya) Grammar and Texts. Cologne: Ruediger Koeppe.

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