Endangered Languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia

Call for Submissions
UNESCO Register of Good Practices in Language Preservation [details]

It is common knowledge that about 90 per cent of about 6,000 languages existing in the world are expected to be replaced by dominant languages by the end of the twenty-first century. Siberia is one of the regions with the majority of indigenous population is presently not marked by the language diversity anymore, though generally, they spoke various unique languages formerly. At least some 30 languages in the region of Siberia can be seen as endangered.

UNESCO Activities for Safeguarding Endangered languages
Recognizing the need for an integrated vision of the issue of language in all aspects that relate to UNESCO’s mandate, the Organization, in recent times, has paid due attention to language issues while developing such normative tools as the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and its Action Plan, adopted in 2001, the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Recommendation on the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace; the latter two documents were adopted by the UNESCO’s General Conference in October 2003. [text]

In most cases, the situation can be defined as critical and requiring expeditious measures to revive and develop the majority of the languages mentioned above. One of the important incentives to changes and levers to influence the present situation in the Siberian region is the UNESCO recommendations on preservation of the traditional culture and folklore (1989) and the intangible cultural heritage preservation programme. Preservation and revival of the endangered languages is the part of this programme. The proposed project should be considered as a logical extension of the seminar on the application of the UNESCO recommendations on the safeguarding of traditional culture and folklore (1989) in the region of Siberia, Russian Federation (was held in Yakutsk, August 2001).

In addition to the materials of the Round table, we placed the following info on our information Internet portal:

  • descriptions of 28 Siberian languages as well as bibliographies on the present languages with a search option;
  • data on the current and competed projects of documentation of the languages of Siberia and on foundations providing funding of education and research projects;
  • presentation of technical devices for the work with the data of different languages including those applicable to the field work held by linguists and anthropologists.

Conducting of the round table as well as the information Internet portal presented here are the products of the work implemented by the staff of the department of the North and Siberia, one of the oldest divisions within the structure of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology named after N.N. Miklukho-Maklay of Russian Academy of Sciences [details]

Information portal Endangered Languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia is conceived as a developing project. We are planning continued clarification and replenishment of bibliographical materials on Siberian languages and cultures, provision of the portal’s visitors with updated information on newly supported projects and results of completed projects, on new conferences and round tables, as well as on the existing funding opportunities. In prospect, the creation of the forum for discussion of the most urgent problems of Siberian languages and cultures is planned.

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This website was created with support from UNESCO Moscow Office