Our Mission

Assisting indigenous communities in their struggle for
cultural and 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 that person 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 multimedia language documentation projects.

Projects begin with expeditions to communities to dialogue with the last speakers of local endangered languages. 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. See our publications here.

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.

Along with our research focusing on Language Hotspots, we are dedicated to raising awareness about endangered languages in the following manner:

  1. to help promote widespread social awareness of the global language extinction crisis,
  2. to comprehensively document poorly known endangered languages,
  3. to get up-to-date information on numbers of speakers, contemporary use and levels of endangerment an community-driven language movements on a the world’s endangered languages, where and when appropriate
  4. to provide support in the form of language technology kits and community training and capacity building,
  5. to help support these indigenous movements in language revitalization and maintenance,
  6. to provide a forum for endangered language media products to be enjoyed by the broadest spectrum of the public and endangered communities alike.


Living Tongues projects include: multimedia pedagogical materials and databases, scientific reference grammars, traditional pedagogical materials, dictionaries, texts, ABC books, children readers, computer-aided language learning 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.


The 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.

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


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.


Contact Us

Ways to Support our Work




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We are a non-profit research institute dedicated to documenting endangered languages around the world.