Show News July 7, 2011
How To Save A Language Through Crowdsourcing

Thanks to the Internet, pretty much anyone can learn a language. We're able to translate chunks of text with free translation services, we can purchase language education software, we can even participate in learning communities via Wikipedia's online university. But what about the languages that are no longer being taught in schools, that are no longer being published in, that are no longer being spoken in households? Preserving these languages is becoming an increasingly tougher goal.

But here's an interesting new concept that might make the task a lot easier - crowdsource a dying language. LiveAndTell is a social network for languages. It allows users to log in, share photos, and "tag" them with corresponding audio recordings of the word of phrase that best describes it. Each uploaded file can be tagged with numerous recordings and text descriptions. And those recordings and text can be added in any number of languages.

Obviously, this online network has its pitfalls. The more obscure the language, the less chance there is that there will be community-wide Internet access where the language is spoken. But this is a good start.

Right now, 175 Native American languages are still being spoken, but just 20 of those are being taught to children. The rest (including the 3,000 languages projected to disappear globally in the next century) are deteriorating.

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