About Help Us Build Living Dictionaries

A project created by a team of linguists and web developers at Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, Living Dictionaries are collaborative multimedia web tools that can help languages survive for generations to come. Ideal for maintaining indigenous as well as diaspora languages, Living Dictionaries are never out-of-print, infinitely expandable resources. They go well beyond a static print dictionary, combining language data with digital audio recordings of speakers and other multimedia. Living Dictionaries address the urgent need to provide comprehensive, freely accessible tech tools for community activists and linguists engaged in grassroots conservation efforts and revitalization programs around the world.

The Living Dictionaries web platform now houses public and private dictionaries for over 200 minority and endangered languages from around the globe, and is growing rapidly. Over a hundred of these dictionaries were built remotely during the Covid-19 era thanks to Living Tongues Institute's online Zoom webinars and free community collaboration opportunities. The intended audience of this web app is inclusive, diverse and multilingual. Living Dictionary managers and contributors may create new entries, edit entries, add images, upload audio files, as well as record audio directly into the dictionaries using a microphone on their smartphone or laptop. Video recording on the app will soon be available as well.

The web platform is a work-in-progress and has a long-term goal of helping to safeguard 3,000+ endangered languages by building dictionaries for them over the next 30+ years. All linguistic and cultural data stored on the platform belongs to the language communities themselves, and dictionary managers can use a convenient "Export" feature to download their text data and multimedia at any time. The Living Tongues team offers guidance, technical support and free training for all citizen-linguists working on the platform. We prioritize supporting dictionaries that are stewarded by community members who wish to see their languages thrive online. 

With your help, we can make our software available for any language community that wishes to create their own Living Dictionary. In doing so, we can help protect language diversity world-wide. Donate today and make an impact!

Funds go towards supporting:

  • the development of new features such as video integration and offline mode
  • tech support to communities
  • translating the platform's interface into dozens of languages
  • training a new generation of citizen-linguists to build dictionaries