Wikitongues estimates that between 50% and 90% of the worlds app. 7,099 languages will disappear in the next 100 years. While all can't be saved, the forces in the world are what they are, they can at least be documented. Wikitongues is working to do that right now.
National Geographic wrote:...Knowing they wouldn’t be able to record, or even locate, the majority these languages themselves, Wikitongues has enlisted a network of volunteers in 40 countries to film native speakers talking in the past, present, and future tenses of their mother tongue. To get a range of tones and emotions, they’re asked to reminisce about childhood, talk about romance, and discuss their hopes and goals.
One volunteer in the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu recorded a language that had never before been studied by linguists. Another tracked down a speaker of Ainu, a rare indigenous language in Japan that is an “isolate,” meaning it bears no relation to any other known language.
Wikitongues isn’t the only initiative working to document rare languages. National Geographic Society’s Enduring Voices project supported the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages in their effort to build Talking Dictionaries comprised of definitions, audio files, and images. Someone looking to learn Tuvan, a Turkic language spoken in Siberia, can download the app to their phone.
Starting this year, Wikitongue’s collections will be stored at the American Folklife Center through a partnership with the Library of Congress. But their goals stretch past documentation—the founders also plan to provide a way to learn languages long after they’ve gone extinct. An app they’re building called Poly allows people to create language dictionaries using text, audio, and video. ...