Celtic Knot Conference 2018/Submissions/How to create a digital archive for indigenous languages

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Video presentation
Title of the submission/Teitl eich bapur
How to create a digital archive for indigenous languages and not let them die / Sut i greu archif ddigidol ar gyfer ieithoedd cynhenid a pheidio â gadael iddynt farw
Type of submission/Math o bapur
Video Presentation
Author of the submission/Awdur y papur
Subhashish Panigrahi, Prateek Pattanaik
O Foundation, Odia Wikimedians User Group

UNESCO predicted that almost half of the 7000 living languages might die in a century's time considering the rate they are going out of use. Many endangered and/or indigenous languages around us might be a victim of this phenomenon if we do not start documenting them in digital mediums. When Wikimedia projects provide a great platform to digitally-document such marginalized languages, it is essential to bring filmmakers, linguists, and open culture advocates to build digital archives with rich annotation and other metadata. With support from the National Geographic Society (NGS), we (a group of Wikimedians from India) are working on a project called OpenSpeaks, to tell the stories of two-four marginalized and indigenous languages of South Asia. The target region is not only home to over 1000 language communities but also shows a great potential for the growth of Internet—with an expected 550 million Internet users in India alone. Similarly, with a high rate of growth in mobile Internet users, the region will have more than 60% of the Internet users accessing the Internet from their mobile devices. This opens a new opportunity for engaging with communities and amplify their voices using the Internet as a tool.

This presentation will be a one of its sorts of activity to elaborate on the experience of collaboration with regional stakeholders, and documenting community stories in some of the most challenging regions in India and Nepal for four OpenSpeaks documentaries in four indigenous languages of the region. One of these languages is spoken fluently by just one person. The presentation might not have many pictures and videos from the production as the agreement does not allow to share them at the moment, but many real life experiences and learning pieces that might be useful for anyone voyaging for similar activities.


Subhashish Panigrahi is a long time Wikimedian, National Geographic Explorer, and open culture activist. After reviving the OpenSpeaks project in 2017, he has led several activities to build an ecosystem around marginalized languages. Part of the project, that is currently supported by National Geographic, is to create a multimedia documentation of a few languages including Kusunda which is spoken by just one speaker from Nepal. OpenSpeaks matured more during Subhashish's tenure at Mozilla as an Mozilla Open Leader and as a MJ Bear Fellow at the Online News Association. Soon after the production of the ongoing archival, a large amount of OERs and open datasets are going to be made public along with the archives for other archivists.