Endangered Language Alliance
The New York metropolitan area is the most linguistically diverse urban center in the world, probably in the history of the world.
Based on a decade of work, ELA has mapped some 650 languages and dialects to over 1000 significant sites around the metropolitan area, including neighborhoods, community institutions, restaurants, and other locations where there is, or was, at least one speaker. We believe this is the first detailed linguist-produced map of the city. We released the map in December 2019 — covered in Time Out, Gothamist, and elsewhere, and noted in the New York Times — to coincide with the UN-delcared International Year of Indigenous Languages and the lead-up to the critical U.S. 2020 census. We’ve been making fixes and updates as we get them — and we’ll be doing events throughout 2020 to launch the map.
The map is committed to representing many of the smaller, minority, and Indigenous languages that are primarily oral and have neither public visibility nor official support. It represents ELA’s ongoing effort to draw on all available sources, including thousands of interviews and discussions, to tell the continuing story of the city’s many languages and cultures. The patterns it reveals — the clustering of West African languages in Harlem and the Bronx, a microcosm of the former Soviet Union in south Brooklyn, the multifaceted Asian-language diversity of Queens, to name a few — only hint at the linguistic complexity of a city where a single building or block can host speakers of dozens of languages from across the globe.
A freely available interactive digital map is in the works, in partnership with the University of British Columbia and with support from the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.
See below for details on how to obtain a map and support ELA’s work.
At the moment, the NYC Languages Map is print-only (24″ x 36″, full-color, standard frame size) with map purchases going to support linguistic diversity.
There are three ways to donate and receive the print map — click the Donate button on our Facebook page, donate via Paypal, or send a check made out to Endangered Language Alliance and sent to 3 W 18th St, 6th Fl, NY NY 10011.
Please send your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive your map. *Add $20 for shipping outside the US*
If you donate $50, you’ll get the full NYC map.
If you donate $65, you’ll get the map plus an ELA t-shirt showing I Love NY in all the possible sentence orders in the languages of the world. Just let us know your size!
(Digital PDF above courtesy of Noah Veltman)
This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council.