Photo: Serge Sagna

The Network for Underexplored Linguistic Diversity

Research group
Active research
Project size
Project period
2023 - ongoing
Project owner
Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science

Short description

The rationale for The Network for Underexplored Linguistic Diversity is to connect linguists who focus on describing and documenting the world’s linguistic diversity, a diversity that is under increasing threat. The network was initiated by researchers from the universities of Gothenburg, Stockholm, Lund and Uppsala, but it aims to create opportunities for wider collaboration in Sweden and the larger Nordic region.

Languages are disappearing faster than we can learn about them. Every language contains its own world of unique experiences, knowledge, and ideas, and we are faced with an immense loss of human heritage and knowledge about the human condition. This network aims to initiate and develop a network for language documenters in Sweden, in collaboration with other Nordic countries. The individual experiences and efforts of language documentation experts active in this region offer a starting point to develop this field of research in order to meet current and future challenges, as well as create opportunities for collaboration. More specifically, issues of sustainability, ethics, and preservability (archiving) are the focus of discussion. Lessons learned from the past twenty years of research, point to an increased focus on engaging speakers of under-resourced languages in the description and documentation of their own languages, something that includes sustainability and ethical issues. The preservation and accessibility of resulting language resources must also be archived in ways that increase visibility and longevity. 

The network seeks to:

  • forward academic language documentation and description, 
  • serve as an expert panel promoting collaboration between departments and researchers in Sweden and internationally, in the field of lesser described language varieties, 
  • follow and promote possibilities for national coordination of principles and procedures for data handling, availability and sustainable archiving, and 
  • develop the methods, education, data handling and archiving, and ethical principles of the field.

The network organized the symposium Future prospects in language documentation (10-13 April 2024), connecting 28 language documenters including the initiators, PhD students and post-docs at Swedish universities.

Participants at the symposium in Aspenäs, April 2024.