The endangered languages crisis is widely acknowledged as one of the most pressing problems facing humanity today, posing moral, practical, and scientific issues of enormous proportions. The Catalogue of Endangered Languages (ELCat) represents the first fully reliable source dedicated to the endangered languages of the world. Founded in 2012, the Catalogue provides authoritative information on language status and vitality, informs users about the plight of endangered languages, and encourages efforts to slow the loss.
The Catalogue is available to the public via the Endangered Languages Project, a website dedicated to promoting endangered languages. ELCat is a cost-free resource for the public, scholars, individuals, language communities, and funding agencies to help them make the best decisions in how to deploy limited resources most effectively (Hauk & Heaton 2017). This website serves both as a resource for information on the languages of the world, and as an arena to collaborate with others working to document, revitalize, and promote endangered and minority languages.
ELCat was created as an outgrowth of the 2009 Endangered Languages Information and Infrastructure Workshop, an NSF-funded initiative organized by Lyle Campbell, Helen Aristar-Dry, and Anthony Aristar which brought together leading researchers and key stakeholders from across the US and the world. The recommendations from this workshop formed the basis for the design and operation of the Catalogue, which was further developed with funding from NSF (grants BCS-1058096 and BCS-1057725), the Luce Foundation, Google.org, the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and the First Peoples Cultural Council.
The Catalogue is maintained by a team at University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Department of Linguistics, under the direction of Professor Gary Holton, in consultation with an international board of directors with regional expertise.