Research Articles

Increasing the future usage of endangered language archives

  • Paul Trilsbeek
  • Alexander König


For many field linguists, digital archiving has become an integral part of their research on endangered languages (indeed Himmelmann 2006 identifies archiving as an essential characteristic of language documentation, as he defines it). It has become clear to researchers and their funding agencies that the only way to preserve the valuable material they collect for current and future generations is to store it in specialized archives accompanied by sufficiently rich metadata descriptions. Several specialized digital archives that preserve materials on endangered languages have been established in the past decade and some already existing traditional language archives have moved into the digital era. Some, such as the Alaska Native Language Archive, or the California Language Archive, serve a specific geographical region, whereas others such as the DOBES and the ELAR archives are more globally oriented. According to Austin (2011), the first type of archive is most often used by members of the speaker communities, whereas the more globally oriented archives are mainly used by their depositors and other scholars. However, both types of archives could benefit from being used by more diverse groups of people.

Keywords: endangered languages, language documentation, digital archives, usage

How to Cite:

Trilsbeek, P. & König, A., (2014) “Increasing the future usage of endangered language archives”, Language Documentation and Description 12, 151-163. doi:

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Published on
31 Jul 2014
Peer Reviewed