Language documentation is not only done by professional linguists – everybody can start and record other people’s speech or collect written texts in their language of interest (but don’t forget to get the permission of the person whose speech you want to record or who owns the texts!). Modern technology has made such activities easy and allows us to share the results with other people all over the world.
Try it, it’s simple!
Students and lecturers of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London have created a web page where everybody may upload a sample of a language:
They also provide useful information for anybody who wants to start such a project (to be found under “MORE” and “HELP”).
Tymoteusz Krół started documenting the language of his grandmother and her generation when he was only 11 years old. The language is Wilamowicean, one of the smallest minority languages spoken in Poland.
Watch here a short clip where Tymoteusz (now a young adult) talks about his documentation activities. After the interview you can also hear Ms. Rozalia Hanusz (1926-2009) talking about the town of Wilamowice (in Wilamowicean):
Basic Oral Language Documentation (BOLD): This website informs about a project of documenting endangered languages in Papua New Guinea. It gives detailed information about what is done and how it is done: http://www.boldpng.info/