Endangered Language Alliance



Founding Co-Director 


Daniel Kaufman received his PhD in linguistics from Cornell in 2010 and co-founded the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) in the same year with the goal of bringing together linguists with immigrant and Indigenous communities in NYC who speak endangered languages. He has specialized in the languages of the Austronesian family for the last two and a half decades and joined Queens College in 2015 as Assistant Professor. Daniel also co-edits Oceanic Linguistics, a journal devoted to the study of the indigenous languages of the Oceanic region and Island Southeast Asia


Ross Perlin is a linguist, writer, and translator focused on exploring andPerlin Headshot (B&W) supporting linguistic diversity. He is currently Co-Director of the Endangered Language Alliance, where for the last 7 years he has overseen research projects focused on mapmaking, documentation, policy, and public programming for urban linguistic diversity. Himalayan languages are a focus – for his PhD in Linguistics at the University of Bern, Ross created a trilingual dictionary, a corpus of recordings, and a descriptive grammar of Trung, an endangered language of southwest China, based on three years of fieldwork. He has also written on language, culture, and politics for The New York Times, The Guardian, and Harper’s, and published a book on unpaid work and youth economics (Intern Nation). He is currently teaching at Columbia. 

Board of Directors

Juliette Blevins is a Professor in the Linguistics Program at CUNY Graduate Center, heading the Endangered Language Initiative. She was previously a Senior Scientist in the Department of Linguistics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, for five years, following professorships at UT Austin, the University of Western Australia, and UC Berkeley. Her contributions to linguistics include over one hundred publications, and span a range of sub-disciplines, from novel syntheses of phonetics, phonology, typology, and sound change, to historical reconstruction and endangered language documentation and revitalization. Areal interests include Australian Aboriginal languages, American Indian languages, Austronesian languages, and the languages of the Andaman Islands.  (Personal webpage)


Habib Borjian has carried out fieldwork and published on various languages of the Iranian family, especially those in danger of extinction. He collaborates with Endangered Language Alliance to document rare languages spoken by immigrant communities in New York City. He is Senior Assistant Editor of Encyclopaedia Iranica, to which he is a regular contributor, and Associate Editor of Journal Persianate Studies. Borjian is a regional director for the Middle East at Endangered Languages Catalogue, a joint project of the Eastern Michigan University and University of Hawaii at Manoa.


Paul Collins is an attorney whose practice includes estate and trust planning and administration, both domestic and international; fiduciary litigation, such as contested probate and accounting matters, guardianships, and proceedings for the construction of wills and trusts; asset protection strategies; charitable giving techniques, including the creation and administration of foundations and split-interest trusts; and the preparation of pre- and post-nuptial agreements. A member of the New York City and State bar associations, Paul also has a long-standing passion for languages and would have most likely been a linguist had he not entered law.


Charles Häberl is an Associate Professor at the Department of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian Languages and Literatures at Rutgers. Born and raised in the State of New Jersey, he received his PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard University. He served as the Director of Rutgers’ Center for Middle Eastern Studies from 2009-2012 and is currently serving as Near East Regional Director for the Endangered Languages Catalogue. Together with James McGrath of Butler University, he received two NEH grants to create a critical edition and translation of the Mandaean Book of John. His primary academic focus is on the languages of the Middle East, both ancient and modern, and ethnic, linguistic, and religious minorities from the region. He has conducted field work with speakers of several different Semitic and Iranian languages, resulting in a monograph on the Neo-Mandaic dialect of Khorramshahr.


Bob Holman, founder and proprietor of the Bowery Poetry Club, is a poet most often connected with spoken word, performance, hiphop and slam. He has published sixteen books of poetry and released two CDs. He has taught at NYU, Columbia, and Princeton. His curricula includes “Translating Endangered Languages” and the “Poets Census,” where students locate poets from non-English speaking communities. Holman is the director of KHONSAY: Poem of Many Tongues, a poem-film of endangered languages, produced by Steve Zeitlin of CityLore. He was the host of “On the Road with Bob Holman,” a series of half-hour documentaries and the 2015 PBS film “Language Matters,” produced by David Grubin. He is also the creative consultant of a treasure-language ballet produced by LINES Ballet Company in San Francisco. Holman has a chapter covering endangered language education activism forthcoming in Language and Globalization: An Autoethnographic Approach (Maryam Borjian [ed.], Routledge, 2017). He believes that part of the poet’s job is to protect language itself.


Nyasha Laing is a human rights consultant and writer/producer who has worked with a host of organizations on research, advocacy and communications campaigns and is passionate about issues of race and culture. Her first documentary film, Punta Soul was showcased in the WOMEX IMZ Showcase (Seville), the Pan African Film Festival (Los Angeles), and the Pan Caribbean festival (Washington). Nyasha holds a degree in History from Yale University and a JD from NYU School of Law.



Endangered Language Initiative – The City University of New York, Graduate Center.

The Alliance for Linguistic Diversity is responsible for the Endangered Languages Project, a website that offers information on and recordings and other primary data in endangered languages, as well as ideas on how to help maintain these languages. ELA has contributed pieces from several of our projects to the site so that this material can reach a wider audience and inspire others to undertake similar work in their areas.

Language Matters produced by Grubin Productions, examines three stories of language endangerment and revitalization, made for PBS with support from the National Endowment of Humanities and the National Endowment of the Arts, as well as several generous sponsors.

ELA is associated with the International Centre for Language Revitalization, whose vision is to develop research and expertise in endangered and indigenous language revitalisation with strong collaboration between researchers, academics and language communities. The ICLR is based at the Auckland University of Technology and is led by some of the leading figures in the Māori revitalization movement. 

ELA Toronto

Led by linguist Anastasia Riehl, ELA Toronto (ELAT) was formed in 2012 and is a sister organization to ELA in New York, with a similar mission to document endangered languages, support community-led efforts and education initiatives, and celebrate the linguistic diversity of the city of Toronto. Toronto is the most linguistically diverse city in Canada — as in New York, over 40% of the population was born in another country. According to the 2011 census, approximately 45% of Toronto residents speak a mother tongue other than English or French.

ELAT’s work has been covered widely in the media, including by The Toronto Star and there are currently several documentation projects underway, including work on Agrigentino Sicilian, Sri Lanka Malay, Urhobo, Harari, Santonofrese, South Efate and Nakanamanga, Ge’ez, and several languages of Italy. They had the opportunity to work with Grizelda Kristin, thought to be the last fully fluent speaker of Livonian, who died near Toronto at the age of 103 in 2013. ELAT’s YouTube channel has fantastic video recordings of many of the langauges they work on. ELAT is always looking for information on less common languages spoken in the Toronto area.

ELA Toronto

Below is a video introducing ELAT’s work and a video of Enas Adose, a Harari speaker who lives in Toronto, sharing her thoughts on the present and future of the language (subtitled in Harari and English).

Harari, a Semitic language of Eastern Ethiopia, has approximately 25,000 speakers of Harari total, according to a 2007 census, there may be as many as 7,000 just in the Toronto area, one of the largest communities in the world. As Enas explains, the language may still be spoken regularly in the community, particularly among first-generation immigrants, but there are concerns going forward.



Volunteers past and present have helped out on a wide range of ELA projects. ELA doesn’t have a formal volunteer program, but occasionally works with volunteers on projects of mutual interest.

Sara Afridi (videography, Voices of the Himalaya)
Jacqueline Alvarez (Mixtec)
Shweta Akolkar (Bishnupriya Manipuri)
Jena Barchas-Lichtenstein (Garifuna, development & strategy)
Nicole Bennett-Fite (Wakhi)
Natalia Bermudez (Naso, Garifuna)
Tierney Brown (Voices of the Himalaya)
Simona Bua (videography, Sicilian)
Lluvia Camacho-Cervantes (Amuzgo, Purhepecha)
Alejandro Canizales (Amuzgo)
Adam Cooper (Amuzgo)
Austin Dean (Seke)
Bien Dobui (Amuzgo, bookkeeping)
Greg Feliu (Neapolitan, Nones, Romansch, Tsou)
Kaela Fong
Jake Freyer (archive)
Nicole Galpern (research, videography)
Rosanne Gangi-Gartner
Stephanie Gilardi
Abby Graham
Harmony Graziano
Kalvin Hartwig (Ojibwe)
Jessica Rose Holtz
Kevin Hughes (Garifuna)
Nicole Hughes (social media)
Safiya Husain (Archiving, Mandaic)
Samantha Mia Mateo (Zaza)
Patrick A. Mather
Timothy Matthes (Zaghawa/Beria, Masalit)
Connor McCabe (Irish)
Brennan McManus (Seke)
Ignacio Montoya (Amuzgo, Ikota)
Edmund O’Neill (IT)
Teresa O’Neill (Garifuna, Zaza, field methods)
Amanda Owensby (Gurung)
Kristin Pak
Siyang Pan (Tsou, Zaza)
Nina Porzucki
Kathryn Rafailov (Juhuri)

John Ratcliffe (Zarghawa/Beria)
Casey Robinson (fundraising)
Danielle Ronkos (Gurung)
Jacqueline Sarro
Rebecca Stephen
(Zaza, mapping)

Jovan Stojanovich
Robin Stringer
Guy Tabachnik (Shughni)
Nancy Taylor
David Thepaut
Jasmine Torres (Video, Website)
Mark Ulrich
Violeta Vázquez-Maldonado (Nahuatl, Amuzgo)
Nicole Velasco
James Wedgwood (Wakhi)
Zach Wellstood (Gurung)
Christopher Wen (Zaza)
Emily Wilson
Perry Wong
Lingzi Zhuang (Gurung)


This is just a partial list of some of the speakers ELA has worked with since 2010.

Amuzgo: Jesus Santana
Appalachian English: Timothy McFarland and father
Bartangi: Gulchehra Sheralshoeva
Beria: Noureddine Elouazizi, Mahmat Nourin, Ahmat Suleiman Nur
Bishnupriya Manipuri: Uttam Singha
Breton: Fabienne Geffroy, Marie-Reine Jezequel, Erwan Le Bihan, Rozenn Milin
Bribri: Robert Elisondo, Emiliano
Bukhori: Aron Aronov, Rabbi Baruch Babaev, Iosif Shalamayev, Albert Yakobov
BurushaskiNaseema Bano, Karim Piar
Casamassimese: The Cristantiello Family
Chamorro: Geraldine Lisua
Dungan: Bibi, Aziza, Nina Porzucki
GarifunaAlex Kwabena ColónLoreida Guity, Milton Guity, James Lovell, and others
Gurung: Narayan Gurung, Tulsi Gurung, Gori Gurung
Judeo-Kashani: Yaqub Tabari
Judeo-Isfahani: Nasser Baravarian
Juhuri: Yakov Abramov, 
Simon Mardakhayev, Rashbil Shamayev
Kabardian: Majda Hilmi, Zhanna Shazzo
K’iche: Leobardo Ajtzalam
LivonianKristin Kundz
Mamuju: Husni Husain
Masalit: Daowd Saleh
Mixe: Fernando Epifacio
Mixtec: Ismael Alvarez, Marcelino Bautista, Romualdo Bautista, Tobías Bautista, Maximiliano Bazan, Margarito Martinez, Saúl Quizet Rivera

Mustangi (Loke): Nawang Tsering Gurung, Tenzin Namdol, Yangchen Gurung
NahuatlManuel Cabrera González, Victorino Hernández Rámos, Perfecta Villegas Román, Irwin Sanchez
Neo-Aramaic: Ghaith Hadaya
NonesElaine Martini Donlin, Giovanna Flaim
Ossetian: Konstantin Slanov
Purhepecha: Rosalba Martinez, Alexis Paz
Romansch: Amalia Malchiodi
Seke: Rasmina Gurung

Shughni: Arambegim (Nanish) Nazrisho
TlapanecZenaida Cantú
Totonac: José Juárez, Wenceslao Juárez Márquez
Wakhi: Nazir Abbas, Husniya Khujamyorova
Zaza: Zere Atmaca, Gülistan Demir, Cumali



The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Health
The New York City Department of Youth and Community Development
NYC Census 2020 Complete Count Fund

Foundations and Non-Profits
Alice Cozzi Foundation
Angelson Family Foundation
Brewer Charitable Trust
Brooklyn Arts Council
Brooklyn Community Foundation
Charitable Foundation of the Estate of Helen J. Wallace
City Lore
Endangered Language Documentation Programme
Endangered Language Fund
Galpern Family Foundation Trust
Gesellschaft für Bedrohte Sprachen (GBS)
Humanities New York
National Geographic Society
Persian Heritage Foundation
Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Study
Reis Foundation
Robert Schiffman Foundation
Semnani Family Foundation
Worldwide Education and Research Institute

Individual Donors (Partial List)
Jason Andrew, Esther Allen, Shlomo Angel, Mikaela Barree, Douglas Bigham, Bronwyn Blackwood, John Brewer, Eleanor Bullock, Melina Campbell, Cheryl and Herbert Chaves, Daniel Crothers, Katherine Deimling, Leslie DiRusso, Lillie Dremeaux, Giles Edkins, Gloria Fisk, Christopher Gassett, Kathy Goodman, Ellen Gorowitz, Suzanne Gorowitz and Brad Trushin, Phyllis and David Grossman, Bob Holman, Chris Hughes, Anne and Rob Ivanhoe, Andrew Jungkuntz, Kevin Jacobson, Eytan Kaufman, Sam Kramer, Stephanie L. Krobot and Charles Krobot III, Shira Kronzon, John Lechner, Karan Mahajan, (in memory of) Amalia Malchiodi, Matthew Malone, Iris Mansour, Martha and Scot Perlin, Gregory Pleak, David Price, Ahmed Qadeer, Jackson Reed, Diane Reppert, Anastasia Riehl, John R. Sanderson, Carole Schiffman, Christoph Schreiber, Michele Sigler, Elizabeth Skeen, Beulah Stanley, Rita Vehlies, Greg Wayne, Janet Wellstood, Zach Wellstood, Linda Woznicki, and many others