Endangered Language Alliance

News & Events

the latest on endangered language work at ELA

Upcoming Himalayan New York Events!

We’re excited to announce two upcoming Himalayan-themed events in NYC.

On the evening of Thursday October 24, a rare screening of Trembling Mountain, a film about the Nepal earthquake of 2015, including Q&A with the filmmaker, ELA’s friend Kesang Tseten, at the Maysles Theater in Harlem. Suggested donation.

The next day Friday October 25 at Columbia, join us for a panel discussion about ELA’s work with the New York Himalayan community.

Himalayan New York: Stories of Migration, Language, Belonging and Social Change


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Fall Events


Join ELA and the great public radio station WNYC, with Micropolis host Arun Venugopal, for a night of performances, audience participation and plenty of hearty conversation — previewed here. You’ll learn phrases and hear music and stories in languages that New Yorkers are keeping alive and well in their own communities. And we’ll be debuting ELA’s new NYC language map!


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 19 @ 7:30 PM (Montclair, NJ)

ELA brings together a panel of Lunaape, Dbaku (Cuicatec), Neo-Aramaic, and Maninka/N’ko activists for a discussion before the immersive oratorio Last Whispers by artist Lena Herzog.

… and stay tuned for a midday event on October 25 at Columbia University on Voices of the Himalaya!

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NYC Language Map: 631 languages at 970 sites

Languages of New York map copy

Our full-scale (24 x 36), all-color language map of New York City, featuring 631 languages at 970 different sites, is ready!

We’re now offering the First Edition of this unique map to anyone who donates $50 in support of ELA’s work with speakers of languages in New York and around the world. (If you’ve already ordered, you should get your map soon.)

There are three ways to receive the map — contributing to this just-launched fundraiser on Facebook, donating via Paypal, or with an old-school check mailed to us and made out to Endangered Language Alliance.

If you donate $65, we’ll add in EITHER our (13″ x 16″) language map of Queens, featuring over 150 languages, or an ELA t-shirt showing I ❤ NY in all the possible sentence orders in the languages of the world.

*Please add $20 for shipping outside the US*

Please send your mailing address to info@elalliance.org to receive your map!

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Language Marathon on the Lower East Side

Save the date: on Sunday February 24, from 2 pm, join ELA at University Settlement on Manhattan’s Lower East Side for a no-holds-barred language marathon, featuring speakers of languages from around the world!

Donations are appreciated, but everyone is welcome. We’ll also have a special sale going, with ELA’s Queens language maps and unique t-shirts both going for just $10. 

Come hear poems, songs, jokes, proverbs and learn a few words in over a dozen languages originally from Pakistan, Mexico, Indonesia, and elsewhere, all now spoken in NYC. The stage is also open to anyone and everyone who would like to share a few words of their mother tongue: just drop us a line telling us a little about what you’d like to present.

What’s the occasion? Since 1999, in memory of the 1952 Bengali Language Movement, the United Nations has designated February 21 as International Mother Language Day, a day to celebrate all of the world’s approximately 7,000 languages as equally rich, varied, and extraordinary vehicles for communication and thought. This year we’ll also be recognizing the International Year of Indigenous Languages, a huge range of events around the world celebrating the deep value and indigenous language, thought, and cutlure.


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Native Sounds Downtown! Garifuna in NYC

Celebrate International Mother Language Day, the Year of Indigenous Languages, and Black History Month by going to hear our long-time collaborator and friend James Lovell —with a team of percussionists and dancers — discuss and perform Garifuna music at the National Museum of the American Indian in downtown NYC.

More details below:

Native Sounds Downtown! Garifuna Concert with James Lovell
Thursday, Feb. 21, 6 p.m.
Diker Pavilion
Cultural advocate and Garifuna historian James Lovell celebrates his Afro-Indigenous heritage in concert. Joined by dynamic percussionists and dancers, Lovell offers his knowledge and talent through music and conversation in honor of Black History Month.
This concert is presented in partnership with the Smithsonian Latino Center.


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Help alleviate poverty in rural Botswana

Remote rural communities in Botswana are among the poorest areas in the country. We request funding to help pay for daily necessities such as food and clothing, and to help provide financial support to young people who wish to pursue educational opportunities. 

ELA is supporting this effort as a fiscal sponsor.

Donate herehttps://www.gofundme.com/poverty-relief-in-rural-botswana

Funding Request:
Our immediate goal is to raise 10,000 US dollars for a pilot program to address these needs in a small number of settlement communities (primarily Mokgenene and Poloka in eastern Botswana). The pilot program will take place from June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020.

If we are successful in raising funds, we will use the results of the pilot program to create a larger program covering more settlement communities. At the end of the pilot program, a report on expenditures will be available upon request.

Botswana is a country with a growing middle class. It consistently ranks very high on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. And the World Bank has reported a consistent drop in poverty levels.

But remote rural populations lag behind, especially people living in settlement communities such as Mokgenene, Poloka, Khekhenye, Serinane and Diphuduhudu, amongst many others. In these areas the effects of poverty are immediately obvious, including hungry children, people without proper clothing during the cold winter months, high unemployment rates and high rates of alcoholism.

During the school year, children are able to eat at school through the Botswana School Feeding Programme. However, on the weekend and during school vacations, children often remain without food. We propose to offer a pilot program  to make food available to children during those periods. Since food preparation in the village is not feasible, students will be given rations.

Clothing and Toiletries:
Many of the people in the settlement villages do not have sufficient clothing for the cold winter months (with temperatures lower than 40°F at night), leading to illnesses of various kinds. We propose to buy coats, long pants, dresses, shirts, sweaters, shoes, blankets, hats, mittens and other clothing items that people need to remain healthy during the winter months. The lack of sanitary pads for young women is an impediment to school attendance, so we will also provide toiletries. The clothing will be purchased in bulk in Gaborone, the capital city.

Unemployment amongst young people in the rural communities is very high. The only jobs available are tending cattle, harvesting crops on a seasonal basis and Ipelegeng (a government sponsored drought relief program). We propose to make funds available for people who wish to pursue educational opportunities in the nearby cities. The funding will be as flexible as possible to cover any expenses that come up, including (but not limited to) living expenses, tuition, lessons, fees and apprenticeships. We will also make sure that children in local schools have the materials (notebooks, books, pencils, pens, uniforms, etc.) needed to succeed in school.

Please consider donating today. All contributions are tax-deductible. We are fiscally sponsored by the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Endangered Language Alliance
3 West 18th St., 6th floor
New York, NY 10011
United States

Team Members:
Andy Chebanne is Dean of the Humanities at the University of Botswana.

Chris Collins is professor of Linguistics at New York University. He has over 25 years of experience working in Africa doing linguistic documentation.

Zachary Wellstood is a research assistant in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Maryland.

Ibrahim Index of African Governance
( http://mo.ibrahim.foundation/iiag/)

World Bank Botswana Poverty Assessment
( http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/botswana/publication/botswana-poverty-assessment-december-2015)

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Upcoming Events

Starting October 15, ELA will be hosting weekly introductory Quechua classes from our old friends New York Quechua Collective, 7 to 9 pm every Monday at ELA’s office in Manhattan. Sign up here!

On October 19 the American Museum of Natural History will host Ciao Babylon, a film about ELA’s work, as part of the Margaret Mead Film Festival.

On October 25, ELA Co-Director Daniel Kaufman will speak on ELA’s work at the conference Indigenous Languages: From Endangerment to Revitalization and Resilience, at the University of Michigan.

From November 14-16, ELA will participate in the Big Cities, Small Languages conference in Berlin, with Daniel giving the keynote.

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Exploring the Other Roof of the World


This summer, with support from a National Geographic Explorer grant, a team from ELA is traveling across the Pamir region of Tajikistan and an adjacent area of western China, interviewing over 70 speakers and singers in a dozen different languages — primarily under-documented, endangered Iranic languages of the Pamiri subgroup such as Wakhi and Shughni, which have been a focus of ELA’s research since 2010. Here ELA’s team interviews Rushani speaker Guldasta Karimova on her topchan, an outdoor platform for receiving guests that is an integral part of many traditional Pamiri homes.

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Connecting Indigenous Food, Health, and Language

Working with NYC’s Department of Health and the Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, ELA launched a 7-week series of activities in East Harlem centered on indigenous food, language, and community. Led by Nahuatl teacher Irwin Sánchez, the project brought together Mixtec and Mam mothers to share recipes, transmit languages, and talk about health. These gatherings were part of a larger, ongoing collaboration with the Health Department which has also involved in-depth interviews with speakers of Mixtec, Mam, Nahuatl, Garifuna, K’iche’, and Kichwa now living in New York.

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