Thank you to all of our donors!

Without you all, our Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for Talking Dictionaries in Papua New Guinea would not have been a success. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to all of our donors:

Tarek Milleron, Dave Prine, Jessica Illman, Anna Belew, Michael A. Hall, Allison Taylor-Adams, Laetitia Chaneac, Julie Kanakanui, Barbara Partee, David Robinson, Arpiar Saunders, Eric Raimy, Molly Allison-Baker, Robert Munro, Nori Heikkinen, David Nolin, John Ziker, Lee Wilson Ballard, Emily Gref, Mikael Siren, Ryan Henke, Robert Wessling, Sarah Truesdale, Katherine Vincent, Claire Catania, Ulrike Christofori, Boise State Linguistics Lab, Walid Saleh, Chris Donlay, Debbie Anderson, Carla Hurd, Fran Osborne, Laurence Cotton, Sema Balaman, Kimberly Jackson, Sarah Laskin, Audrey Van Herck, James Glenz, Edward Hess, Carley Hydusik, Tamra Wysocki-Niimi, Carl Franco, Bryony Rigby, William Graeper, Tania Reino, Ilona Staples, Nancy Mariano, Stephen Holt, Alex Francis, Alex Sinton, Carole Smith, Bewenca, M. Skelly, Les and Janice Lederer.



12 hours left!

We have 12 hours left to raise $2750 on Indiegogo. Our goal with those funds is to teach a 4-day digital media skills workshop at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (UNITECH) in which local indigenous students will learn how create new Talking Dictionaries for their own native languages.

Please help us out by chipping in! Thanks for your support!


ImageLanguage Documentation Fieldwork in Papua New Guinea: John Agid (left) speaking to Dr. Gregory D. S. Anderson in Matugar village. Photo by Chris Rainier.

36 hours left!

Here is an important message from K. David Harrison, our Director of Research, about our current Indiegogo fundraising campaign:

Dear friends of Living Tongues,

This is K. David Harrison writing to you to let you know there are 36 hours left in our fundraising campaign to raise money for creating new Talking Dictionaries in Papua New Guinea.

Your gift will go towards training students to create cutting-edge Talking Dictionaries for some of the world’s most under-documented languages. Please consider donating today.

Donate here:

For those of you who have already donated, I want to say thank you for you generosity, and for helping language activists and linguists to safeguard linguistic diversity around the world.

Thank you!

K. David Harrison, Ph.D
Director of Research
Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages

ps. Check out the Talking Dictionaries we have already built, along with new ones for minority languages in Latin America:

Image K. David Harrison working with speakers of the Matukar language in Papua New Guinea. Photo by Chris Rainier.

Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign for Talking Dictionaries in PNG

ImageGibe and Pipe, Huli wigmen, in the Southern Highlands of Papua new Guinea. Traditional ceremonial paint colors: Mali-ambua-hare, Waterfall: Iba-Fugu. Photo by Chris Rainier.

This post is about our fundraising campaign on Indiegogo. We have 9 days left to raise $2750 that will go towards creating new Talking Dictionaries in Papua New Guinea. Please consider donating. Thank you for your support.

Background. Every two weeks, the last fluent speaker of a language dies, and humanity loses another language. Nearly half of the world’s languages are likely to vanish in the next 100 years.

Over the last decade at Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, we have worked with hundreds of people dedicated to endangered language documentation around the world. Through community collaboration, we have made some of the first-ever digital recordings of dozens of endangered languages, and we have traveled to many countries to train language activists in documentation techniques that can help preserve their cultural and linguistic legacy.
Papua New Guinea’s Languages. The island nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) represents the greatest single concentration of linguistic diversity on earth, with 830 listed languages identified thus far, and an unknown number remaining to be scientifically documented.
Without PNG, no survey of the world’s languages would be complete, nor would our understanding of the current global process of languages extinction. With so many of PNG’s languages being undocumented and in danger of disappearing, now is the time to start creating recordings of these languages, and helping local activists and students to create materials that can preserve their languages for the future.


Our goal is to teach a 4-day digital media skills workshop at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology (UNITECH) in which local indigenous students will learn how create new Talking Dictionaries for their own native languages. We have been invited by local scholars in Papua New Guinea to give this workshop later this year in October (2013), and we are raising the funds to make it happen.

Please donate! Our workshop is partially funded thanks to grants and donors, but we need a further $2750 to help cover the rest of our equipment and travel costs. Over 50 different local languages are represented at UNITECH. We aim to create Talking Dictionaries for 12 languages to start with, and then return once a year for the next 4 years to continue building more dictionaries with the students.
This will be the 4th time we teach a digital skills workshop of this kind, and the first time in the Pacific. Check out pictures and write-ups from our previous workshops for speakers of endangered languages (organized in collaboration with National Geographic) held in Santa Fe, New Mexico (USA); Shillong, Meghalaya (Northeast India) and Santiago (Chile).


What is a Talking Dictionary? It takes the traditional paper dictionary to a whole new level. It is an interactive online tool that digitally preserves words and phrases, and it allows the user to hear high-quality audio recordings of words in their language, as well as record and upload new content.

The tool is a powerful educational tool for communities that are trying to revitalize their endangered languages. The online dictionary is programmed to be bilingual so that speakers of the local dominant language can easily use it. It serves as a resource to help fluent speakers teach their native language to a new generation of speakers.

Talking Dictionaries help create visibility for minority languages on the Web. They are a virtual space where speakers can go to listen to their language, no matter where they are in the world. Take a minute to check out our Talking Dictionary Portal, and our new site for the Talking Dictionaries of Latin America.

Why We Can Make a Difference: At the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, we are a small and dynamic team with a low overhead. We coordinate big long-term projects, such as the Talking Dictionaries, on a modest budget. Supporting us is a great way to support the creation of tools that will preserve threatened languages for future generations of speakers.

Thanks to a Talking Dictionary, you can listen to forms of human speech that you’ve never heard before, and get a further glimpse into the rich diversity of languages spoken on our planet.

We have a good relationship with a number of communities in Papua New Guinea because we have done language documentation there in the past. Here are some images from our fieldwork in Papua New Guinea in 2009.

Please donate online to our fundraising campaign!

Thanks for reading.

– The Living Tongues Team



“Vanishing Voices” in National Geographic Magazine, July 2012

Great news! An in-depth article about endangered languages is in this month’s issue of National Geographic Magazine. Written by journalist Russ Rymer, with amazing images by photographer Lynn Johnson, the article explores global language loss, with profiles on language revitalization efforts among speakers of languages such as Tuvan, Aka, Chemehuevi, Wintu, Euchee and Seri.

Living Tongues Director Dr. Gregory D.S. Anderson and Director of Research Dr. K. David Harrison were interviewed for the piece, and their documentation work in Arunachal Pradesh (India), among Aka speakers, is discussed. Pick up a copy in news stands before the end of the month! Here is the cover, which features coverage on Easter Island, and in the top left-hand area, you can see that “Saving Lost Languages” is one of the featured topics of the issue.


Dr. Gregory Anderson helps record the Xyzyl Language in Siberia


Dr. Anderson is currently doing fieldwork in Siberia and recently published an article about his work:

“The 2012 Enduring Voices expedition to the Siberia Language Hotspot has allowed us to explore the current state of the Xyzyl (pronounced hizzle) language from the Republic of Xakasia (pronounced ha-KAH-see-ya, also spelled “Khakasiya”).

We traveled across the birch-covered hills of southern Siberia and into the wind-swept steppe dotted with ancient burial mounds until we reached the Xyzyl territory northwest of Mongolia. We visited five villages and identified fifty to sixty total speakers and semi-speakers.

Xyzyl is an unrecognized “hidden” language officially considered a dialect of the Xakas language. Xyzyl people we interviewed insist theirs is a separate language and our linguistic analysis supports this…”

For the rest of Dr. Anderson’s article, please check out right here on Nat Geo NewsWatch.

Thanks for reading!

Thank you, volunteers!

During the last year, June 2011 to May 2012, we have welcomed many wonderful people as online volunteer researchers at Living Tongues! Most of them have been involved doing online data entry and research for our database on endangered languages. We have been lucky to work with talented, passionate individuals from all over the world who hail from diverse fields such as linguistics, anthropology and other social sciences, information technology, literature, classics, communications, computer science, history, international development and many other fields.

The volunteers were selected based on the quality of their applications. They worked from home or from school, collaborated with us online through email and Skype, many of them also helped us spread the word about our campaigns through social media. Our volunteers so far have been undergraduate students, doctoral candidates, professors, media professionals, humanitarian aid workers, and people in many other lines of work who are concerned about language endangerment. We would like to thank all of our volunteers for taking the time to do research on endangered languages, and contribute to raising awareness about language extinction. From all of us at Living Tongues,


We would like to recognize our volunteers (those who worked at different times between June 2011 – May 2012) for their efforts by listing their names below, according to the areas of the world that they worked on within our database:

North America: Sharina Kim, Eleanor Ellis, Kim Cooper, Ellen Olson, Emmy Haskett, Patricia Blatter, Rachel Maynard, Brittany Williams.

Latin America: Eleanor Pollo, Laura Backus, Molly Allison-Baker, Tanager, Natalie Feingold, Kaitlin Caruso, Eleanor Ellis, Rebecca Orford, Megan Barnett, Katie Lackler, Denis Vidal, Olga Izquierdo Sotorrio, Kim Factor.

Australia: Michelle Hunsicker, Daniel Sachs, Kate Lynn Lindsey, Rachel Maynard

Eastern Melanesia and Papua New Guinea: Julie Kanakanui, Louward Allen Zubiri and his students at the University of the Philippines, Kristin Denham and her students at Western Washington University, Erik Joel West, Claire Fallat, Lorraine Elletson, Katie Claybough, Sarah Truesdale, Julia MacNeely, Victoria Dwight, Jessica Winters

Taiwan & Phillippines: Priyanka Sinha, Murray Tong, Louward Allen Zubiri and his students at the University of the Philippines

Caucasus: Erin Simpson

Siberia: Spencer J. Campbell, Kim Hegerberg

Africa: Rachel Eidson, Riordan Woods, Kristy Spiak

Database logistics and support with guidelines: Kimberly Gladman, David Pippin, Julie Kanakanui.

Other projects: Denice Szafran (resource compiling), Ken-Terika Zellner and David Baxter and their fellow group members (BABEL project on Endangered Numeral Systems of the World).

“International Mother Language Day” events volunteer coordinators: Natalie Feingold, Ken-Terika Zellner, David Baxter.

Volunteer coordination: Anna Luisa Daigneault, Dr. Gregory DS Anderson

Database management: Anna Luisa Daigneault, Jeremy Fahringer, Dr. Gregory D.S. Anderson, Dr. K. David Harrison

We are happy to announce we are welcoming a new team of online volunteer researchers and two new guest bloggers starting in June 2012, and we are looking forward to working with them as well.

For news related to upcoming volunteer positions at Living Tongues, keep track of us on our volunteer information page.