AILCA 2.0 – The Archive of Indigenous Languages and Cultures of Asia

AILCA 2.0 – The Archive of Indigenous Languages and Cultures of Asia

A project of DIHA


2010-2013, 2016 – Current (version 2.0)

Description / Summary of Project

According to the most optimistic views, we will see about 3,000 languages disappear by the year 2100 worldwide. In Singapore’s immediate geographical area (South East Asia) the number of languages that will most likely die out by the turn of the century is about 2,000. More pessimistic researchers posit that only about 700 languages will survive into the next century (Nettle and Romaine, 2000). With increasing awareness of the fragile state of many languages in the world, universities worldwide have been creating repositories for storing research outputs of their fieldwork.

AILCA would be the first digital archive for endangered languages to be set up in Asia. Singapore is ideally placed to house a collection of material from the region and to play a pre-eminent role in Asia and worldwide in the documentation and preservation of endangered languages. NTU has a long and reputable tradition of technological expertise and, with the newly established Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies, can play a leading role in digital archiving internationally. The primary mission of AILCA is the long-term preservation of endangered Asian languages. Emphasis will be placed on the maintenance or even revitalization of the languages through the creation of school and other educational material and by supporting local/regional language centers, for example by storing their data so that it is safeguarded for posterity and then either making the material available online or creating complete copies of materials and returning these to the communities.

The archive will have three interfaces, namely:

  • The Research Interface – through this portal language experts can access the data stored on the archive as they would other language archives (see Appendix for a list). To do this we will partner with the MPI archive and adopt the deposit and retrieval system they have developed. The adoption of the system developed by MPI will ensure a close and long-term collaboration with MPI. This relationship will serve to ensure NTU establishes itself as a global player in language archiving.
  • The Educational Interface – A web site will be designed specifically for educationalists around the world who do not simply want to have access to the data, but would like to make meaningful use of the material in a pedagogical and structured way. This is particularly true of communities that still have hope and plans to revitalize their traditional language. Academic staff from the National Institute of Education have agreed to collaborate in this aspect.
  • Public Access Interface – There is a lot of interest worldwide in the cultural traditions and heritages of minority groups. However, the general public does not have the skills and knowledge to make any use of a traditional language archive. We would like to cooperate with international initiatives for streaming parts of the collection in the form of a language museum. In collaboration with the NTU Heritage Museum, a web portal specifically designed to allow easier access to some of the archived material will be developed.

Posted on

September 1, 2016

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