Preserving Language

Preserving Language

* The image above is a screenshot of the friisk.org website for German-Söl’ring translations.

What is an endangered language?

An endangered language is a language with very few living speakers that is at risk of extinction.

According the Wikipedia, it is estimated that there are thousands of endangered languages with hundreds having become extinct over the past three generations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endangered_language).

How did I start preserving endangered languages?

Language is an essential part of communication and culture. Documenting, digitizing, and preserving language is an important task.

Two years ago, a high school student in Czech Republic named Tanno Hüttenrauch contacted me on Reddit. He informed me of his project to preserve his home island’s dialect of North Frisian called Söl’ring.

Söl’ring is a dialect of the language North Frisian that comes from an island of Germany named Sylt. According to Wikipedia, there are fewer than 500 native speakers (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%B6l%27ring).

After continued communication for several months, I agreed to offer help building a website and assisting with data formatting.

What did we build?

Together, Tanno and I founded a German website friisk.org for German <-> Söl’ring translations, Söl’ring verb conjugations, and Söl’ring pronunciations.

Tanno recorded tens of thousands of translations and received permission from several publishers to use some of their works in compiling our data set for our website.

Initial Success and Future Plans

Tanno communicates with several organizations that are part of the Söl’ring speaking community. We are thankful for all of the kind and helpful messages that we have received.

Going forward, we hope to start adding more endangered dialects of North Frisian. We have already started to support Halligfriesisch and Nordergoesharder with a few more in the works.

We make great efforts to continually improve translations, but it is important to realize that online translations are not always perfect and there is always room for improvement.

Thank you very much for reading and we encourage any thoughts, feedback, or comments!

Update (June 2020): We recently started supporting several additional dialects. We now provide translations and conjugations for Söl’ring, Fering, Halligfriesisch, Karrharder, Nordergoesharder, Öömrang, and Wiedingharder.

* Originally published in 2020.

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