Our Mission


Assisting indigenous communities in their struggle for cultural linguistic survival

Minority languages are being increasingly replaced by various politically, economically, or socio-culturally dominant ones. Every two weeks the last fluent speaker of a language passes on and with him/her goes literally hundreds of generations of traditional knowledge encoded in these ancestral tongues. Nearly half of the world’s languages are likely to vanish in the next 100 years.

The mission of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages is to promote the documentation, maintenance, preservation, and revitalization of endangered languages worldwide through linguist-aided, community-driven multi-media language documentation projects.

Projects begin with expeditions to communities to dialogue with last speakers of endangered languages worldwide. After we obtain the permission of the community to work with them, we discuss various courses of action to help them meet their own goals of maintenance, revitalization, etc. program. Story books, basic literacy materials as well as grammatical and lexical materials in electronic and print form may be produced. We publish our scientific work in leading journals and in books and archive our video for the use of future generations.

Community Training

Involving indigenous assistants in basic linguistics and modern information technologies can help to reverse declining prestige, bridge the digital divide, and increase the range of uses of minority tongues. We train community members in the use of writing systems and modern digital media. This enables the documentation project to succeed and be embraced by the speech community, and creates a legacy for future generations.

Public Outreach

Our responsibility to global and local communities of non-indigenous people is to help them appreciate the cultural and linguistic significance of often ignored minority communities, the unique knowledge systems encoded in small languages and the value of human cultural diversity.

To make our work accessible to the public, we build high quality digital archives and searchable, online talking dictionaries. The process of language endangerment, or the gradual abandonment of one language in favor of another, is going on at an alarming pace around the world.


Living Tongues projects include: multi-media pedagogical materials and databases, scientific reference grammars, traditional pedagogical materials, dictionaries, texts, ABC books, children readers, computer-aided language learning (CALL) materials, educational and informational videos and booklets.

Intellectual Property Rights

Community ownership of intellectual property is a primary consideration. Digital recordings remain under the auspices of the endangered language community itself, which grants permission (individually and collectively) for their scholarly use and dissemination. View our Ethics Statement.


Living Tongues Institute was founded by Dr. Gregory D.S. Anderson, who is the current Director and President of the organization. Swarthmore College Linguistics professor Dr. K. David Harrison is Vice-president and Director of Research. A complete list of Living Tongues officers, language activists, fellows and associates can be found on this site.

General Inquiries

This blog is updated by Anna Luisa Daigneault, Development Officer at Living Tongues Institute. Please direct any questions you may have to: annaluisa@livingtongues.org

Help Us Continue Our Work

Your 100% tax deductible contribution can help us preserve valuable information for future generations in the specialized knowledge contained in endangered languages. Please consider Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, when planning your charitable giving. We rely solely on the generosity of donors and grants to fund our field expeditions, publications, and assistance to indigenous communities struggling for cultural survival. Donate to Living Tongues

languages-recorded-talking-dictionary-matugar_48953_600x450_zpsff9e4a96Language Documentation Fieldwork in Papua New Guinea: John Agid (left) speaking to Dr. Gregory D. S. Anderson in Matugar village. Photo by Chris Rainier.

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