working with an endangered language

Read the LSA’s pamphlet What is an Endangered Language?


Linguists around the globe actively work with communities to document and revitalize endangered languages. The Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation (CELP) promotes interest in this topic through its Facebook account and its discussion blog

Special Events and Projects

Logo of the UNESCO 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

The UN has declared 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The LSA is thrilled to be an official partner of the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The LSA and the Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas (SSILA) are deeply committed to supporting the UN's mission of raising awareness and support of Indigenous groups and their languages. We will be tailoring our events and media presence to actively contribute to the International Year of Indigenous Languages. The LSA's efforts are being spearheaded by its Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation (CELP). Our planning efforts are well underway, and updates will be added to this page as they become available.

LSA Awarded Grant on Building Capacity in Linguistics and Endangered Languages at Tribal Colleges and Universities [2016]

Symposia and Education

CELP regularly addresses methodology and ethics by planning panels at the LSA’s Annual Meeting:

  • "Documenting Variation in Endangered Languages" [2016]
  • Utilization of language archives in endangered language research, revitalization, and documentation” [2015]
  • "Documenting Conversation" [2014]
  • Posters and presentations: "Methodology and Practice in Collaborative Language Research" [2013, co-sponsored with SSILA]
  • Screening of We Still Live Here – Âs Nutayuneân; Panel: "From Language Documentation to Language Revitalization" [2012]
  • Documenting Endangered Languages: "NSF-NEH DEL Projects in Honor of the 20th Anniversary of the LSA Panel on Endangered Languages" [2011]
  • Plenary Symposium: “Documentary Linguistics: Retrospective and Prospective” [2010]
  • Panel: "Endangered Languages and Linguistic Theory" [2007]
  • Tutorial: "A Field Linguist’s Guide to Making Great Audio and Video Recordings"; Poster Session:  "More Challenges and Issues in Endangered Language Fieldwork" [2006, co-sponsored with OLAC]
  • Plenary Address:  Victor Golla: "The attractions of American Indian languages"; Poster Session:  "Challenges and Issues in Endangered Language Fieldwork" [2005]
  • Symposium: “Endangered Languages and Linguistic Theory,” screening of a new film on endangered languages [2004]

In 2006, CELP helped develop a web-based guide for field linguists.

CoLang (Institute on Collaborative Language Research)






Members of CELP fully support the CoLang summer institute which provides undergraduates, graduate students, practicing linguists, and community members access to the latest information on methods in language documentation and revitalization. CoLang 2020 will be held at the University of Montana. 


Support for Native American Language Revitalization Legislation in the U.S. Congress

In recent years, CELP has worked with the LSA to issue a number of resolutions, statements, and endorsements:

CELP also initiated a letter-writing campaign in 2011 urging President Obama to sign a Draft Executive Order titled "White House Initiative on Native American Language Revitalization." The LSA works closely with the National Humanities Alliance to support humanities advocacy on behalf of funding for language documentation and revitalization.


The LSA promotes work on endangered languages by offering several awards:

News and resources:

There are hundreds of other sites and organizations dedicated to documenting and promoting endangered languages. A few of these resources include:

Looking for a book on endangered languages? Consider the LSA Book Exchange!

Field Reports

CELP has begun inviting individuals to write field reports raising issues of ethics or methodology and sharing what different communities are doing: