Google Gathers Endangered Languages for PreservationIt's always sad when a once-great language vanishes. A product of the modern, interconnected world is that small languages have very little chance to flourish. They are starved out by larger, more successful language. If the trend continues, in 100 years we'll only have a fraction of the languages we have today.
And while that isn't a bad thing, languages are little microcosms of culture. Which might by why Google is now preserving them.
Google has started the Endangered Languages Project to help catalog languages that are on the verge of extinction. It's a site that will provide information on more than 3,000 different languages, providing documents, audio recordings, videos and more into a comprehensive record of what the languages sounded like and how it flowed.
This being Google, the service wouldn't be complete without some interesting service integration. In this case, Google has thrown together an interactive map that you can use to pinpoint where the language is still spoken, or where it was spoken if the language is gone. You get stats on the number of native speakers alive as well as documents discussing the languages' histories.
While the record probably won't be complete, at least we'll have some record of these languages in the future. The way it's going, I could imagine a world where there are only 3 dominant languages. A good glimpse into our future would be China, which attempted to unify its language under Mandarin.
While the many regional dialects of China are still spoken, children are largely not learning to speak them, opting for Mandarin and English instead. China has seen many of its smaller languages, many of which used to be of immense importance in the region, nearly disappear.
The death of a language doesn't really matter. But it would be sad to get into the 22nd century without a record of where we came from.