Introduction

This webguide presents government information resources related to endangered and minority languages.

Estimates vary as to the number of endangered languages worldwide, but various sources quote the figure at 50% of the languages spoken in the world. Ethnologue defines endangerment to mean “that parents are no longer teaching the language to their children and are not using it actively in everyday matters.”

According to the Han Rausing Endangered Languages Project, “in many areas of the world, economic, military, social and other pressures are causing communities to stop speaking their traditional languages, and turn to other, typically more dominant, languages. This can be a social, cultural and scientific disaster because languages express the unique knowledge, history and worldview of their communities; and each language is a specially evolved variation of the human capacity for communication.”

It perhaps not surprising that non-profit non-governmental organizations, universities, and other educational institutions provide much the available information about endangered languages. National federal governments are, after all, often a force responsible for language endangerment. However, governments do tend to produce materials related to the language use in their jurisdictions. In addition, specialized agencies often administer language-related programs and disseminate related educational information. International organizations such as the United Nations also produce information about the world’s languages.

The resources in this webguide consist of international sources along with information from individual governments, namely Canada, the United States, the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand. (The organizations were selected, perhaps ironically, because they have a large quantity of information available in English.) Much of the national-level information is related to the countries’ aboriginal / indigenous languages, because these are endangered in most cases. The sources included on the “international” page have a global focus, although some were produced by a national government.

The types of information included in this guide are documentation on intergovernmental programs, official national statistics and reports, information about government legislation, comparative linguistic data, information about the general topic of language endangerment, and reference resources for the world’s languages. (N.B. The “main” resources are shown in bold type, and subsections or additional information items are regular type.)

International International Information

Australia Australia and New Zealand Resources

Canada Canadian Resources

European Union European Union Resources

United States United States Resources