Embedding endangered languages in the fabric of the social web may provide a means to save them from extinction
The realm of Digital Humanities has embraced the potential for technology to enrich our collective cultural heritage. Beyond building bespoke software to assist with archive digitization and artefact reconstruction several recent forays have embraced aspects of the social web ecology to further catalogue humanities’ cultural legacy.
A recent endeavour in this area is LiveAndTell, a user-generated content site for documenting and learning rare languages. Creator Biagio Arobba has constructed the site to work for any language but he is particularly focused upon preserving Native American tongues. Out of 175 Native American languages still being spoken, only about 20 are taught to children. The rest “are classified as deteriorating or nearing extinction.” This is where Arobba hopes LiveAndTell can positively contribute:
LiveAndTell is more a social network than a Wikipedia-like site. Users can post photos and “tag” them with audio recordings of the word or phrase in question. They can tag the photo with multiple audio files or any amount of text. And they can add an infinite number of languages.