Endangered languages information and infrastructure

(November 2009) The Endangered Languages Information and Infrastructure Project (ELIIP) is holding a planning workshop 12–14 November in Salt Lake City, Utah. Gary Simons, Ph.D., Associate International Director of Language Program Services for SIL, is participating by chairing the working group on "Interoperation" and giving demonstrations of two parts of the existing language information infrastructure that he helps to lead, Ethnologue and OLAC.

  • Ethnologue: Languages of the World is SIL's comprehensive reference catalogue of the world's 6,909 known living languages. It includes language descriptions, color maps, statistical summary tables and a bibliography. The Ethnologue conforms to the ISO 639-3 standard, which provides unique three-letter codes for identifying nearly 7,500 languages, including ancient, constructed and some extinct languages.
  • OLAC, the Open Language Archives Community, was established in 2000 as an international partnership of institutions and individuals who are creating a worldwide virtual library of language resources. OLAC partners endeavor: (i) to develop consensus on best current practice for the digital archiving of language resources, and (ii) to develop a network of interoperating repositories and services for housing and accessing such resources. At present, 40 institutions (including SIL) are participating to produce a combined collection of over 66,000 language resources.


The ELIIP workshop was designed as the first step in a larger project organized by the Linguist List (Eastern Michigan University) and the University of Utah's Center for American Indian Languages, which is intended to produce an authoritative catalogue, database and updatable website providing a greater depth of information on endangered languages than is currently available.

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