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Media Advisory 05-011

Documenting Endangered Languages

Documenting Endangered Languages

Documenting endangered languages.

June 7, 2005

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Linguistics experts estimate that almost half of the world's 6,000-7,000 existing languages--and the cultural, linguistic and cognitive information they encapsulate--are headed for oblivion. In response, the National Science Foundation (NSF), in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has launched a multi-year "rescue mission" to document and preserve key languages before they become extinct. More than 70 at-risk languages will be digitally archived as part of their new Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) awards program.

Reporters are invited to attend a briefing on June 14 to explore the DEL program and to highlight three current research projects that underscore its value and goals.

What: Briefing - "Documenting Endangered Languages"

Who: David Lightfoot, NSF assistant director of Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
          Carole Watson, NEH assistant chairman for Partnerships and National Affairs
          Joan Maling, NSF program director of linguistics
          Seth Kramer, Ironbound Films, Inc.
          Susan Penfield, University of Arizona
          Lise Dobrin, University of Virginia

When: Tuesday, June 14, 2005, 1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Where: National Science Foundation
              4201 Wilson Blvd., Room 110
             Arlington, Va. 22230
            (Ballston Metro stop)
            - Enter at corner of 9th & Stuart
            - Go directly to Rm. 110 on the left (no need to check in with security)
            For directions:

To listen and ask questions via speaker phone: Dial Toll Free No. 1-877-716-1362   Passcode: 697899

RSVP (media only) to

For more information and a detailed agenda, contact:

Media: Nicole Mahoney (

Others: Susan Mason (


Media Contacts
Susan M. Mason, NSF, (703) 292-7748, email:
Nicole Mahoney, NSF, (703) 292-5321, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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