Research Articles

Multimedia and documentation of endangered languages

  • Éva Á. Csató
  • David Nathan


Today, both language-speaking communities and the linguistics community face the sad fact that the transmission of competence and expertise in human languages has stalled. The increasing degree of language endangerment resulting in the potential loss of the majority of human languages is well known. Moreover, the transfer of expertise in lesser-used languages has also become an endangered enterprise as so-called small language courses are closed down at academic institutions, specialisation in such languages becomes professionally unrewarding, and linguists’ expertise in endangered languages is untapped.

The resultant loss of knowledge about lesser-used languages, communities’ linguistic competence in them, and opportunities to learn them, has become an enormous challenge. In this article we wish to present some aspects of our experience in designing, creating and using a multimedia product for the documentation and dissemination of linguistic knowledge and behaviour for a highly endangered language, the Turkic language of the Karaim of Lithuania. Our aim was to use a community-focused approach to produce a multimedia CD-ROM for the Karaim community, as well as provide the linguistic community with access to Karaim data that is transparent and accountable to further linguistic analysis.

Keywords: endangered languages, language documentation, expertise, training, community focus, accessbility, Karaim, Turkic language, Lithuania, multimedia, CD-ROM, design, creation, use

How to Cite:

Csató, É. & Nathan, D., (2014) “Multimedia and documentation of endangered languages”, Language Documentation and Description 1, 73-84. doi:

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Published on
31 Jul 2014
Peer Reviewed