Endangered Languages Information and Infrastructure Project (ELIIP)

Last week the Center for American Indian Languages at the University of Utah hosted a workshop going under the acronym ELIIP (for Endangered Languages Information and Infrastructure Project) as the first step towards a larger project "intended to produce an authoritative catalogue, database, and updatable website of information on endangered languages and enrich the infrastructure of the discipline by integrating accurate EL information into a network of digital information and research facilities".

The workshop participants ranged from regional language experts to data infrastructure specialists to representatives of non-profit foundations who were all assembled to give advice (largely via working groups) to the project organizers, Lyle Campbell of the University of Utah and Helen and Anthony Aristar-Dry of Eastern Michigan University/LINGUIST List.

While technical issues were far from absent from the discussion, quite a bit of the attention was focused, not surprisingly, on the social problems relating to data input and review. Ideally, the "best" experts (or more likely expert) would review the data for each language in the database and local experts (possibly members of native speaker communities) would also be able to offer comments on the data for review by those with editorial control. When one considers that the number of "endangered" languages will probably be in the thousands on almost any counting scheme, this is no small editorial task, and purely technical solutions will only get us so far.

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