LangscapeLanguage diversity for everyone
What is Langscape?
Langscape is an ambitious project to increase understanding of language diversity, through visualization and aggregation of knowledge.
Langscape is a geographical information system (GIS), providing best-in-class mapping of around 6400 languages worldwide. But the map is just the start. The map links to detailed information about each language, integrating information from many different data resources. This includes information about demographics, language families, sound systems, bibliographies and expertise, plus raw sound and text materials.
Langscape does not seek to compete with existing language database projects, which reflect deep expertise and many years of effort in specific regions, language types, or levels of analysis. Instead, Langscape seeks to make these resources more visible by making their contributions more accessible and sustainable.
Langscape is coordinated by the Maryland Language Science Center, but it reflects contributions from many individuals and organizations.
Who is Langscape for?
Langscape aims to serve academic and public needs alike. Our bet is that by serving diverse audiences, it is possible to serve individual audiences better. This parallels the Language Science Center’s overall mission to improve language research via integrating diverse fields.
For academics, Langscape can serve (i) linguists who are interested in language documentation, analysis, or typology; (ii) language teachers, especially for less commonly taught languages (LCTLs), and (iii) language technology researchers, especially for low-resource languages.
In the public sphere, Langscape can serve as a resource for K-12 teachers, for government, for NGOs, and for ‘citizen scientists’. Our K-12 Teachers’ Manual describes applications of Langscape in many parts of the curriculum: global studies, geography, history, and social studies.
Langscape: Past, Present, and Future
Langscape’s initial ‘soft’ public release was in May 2014, and a substantially improved version was released in September 2014. Significant further enhancements are due for release during 2014-2015.
Langscape has been a development project of the Language Science Center since January 2014, building on earlier work done by UMD’s Center for Advanced Study of Language, which contributed much data, especially on language diversity in Africa.
Langscape is currently funded as a collaboration between the University of Maryland and the US Government.
Future developments will include much new functionality, particularly for querying and for user-contributed data and map-layers.