– [Narrator] Of the
roughly 7,000 languages spoken and signed on Earth, about 500 of them are currently
at risk of disappearing as the number of native speakers dwindles. This is the story about one man dispatching an army of volunteers to record these languages
before it’s too late. (pleasant music) – My name is Daniel, and I’m
the co-founder and director of Wikitongues, a non-profit powered by more than a thousand
volunteers around the world working to preserve, promote, and pass on every language to the next generation. Every day, hundreds of
volunteers around the world are recording videos. (foreign languages) I help keep track of all of these videos as they’re submitted, so
that they can be reused for educational and cultural purposes. New York is very important
to linguistic diversity. New York is, by most statistics, the most linguistically
diverse city in the world. There are as many as 800 languages spoken in and around the five boroughs. In many cases it can be
easier for communities to maintain their languages here than it is to maintain
their languages at home. Today we’re gonna meet up
with Wikitongues volunteers who are going to be taking us through different parts of New York. So we’re gonna speak to you, Locano. Yeah! Wikitongues focuses on
recording oral histories, which is a fancy way of saying talking about yourself and your culture. Sometimes people barely talk
about their language at all and they just talk about their daily job, in their language of course. Sometimes people talk about the history of their language and their culture. (foreign language) – My name is Elfie Goliat. I will speak Aru language. (foreign language) The Wikitongues approach
is: record everything and classify it later. What I do is make sure
that all of that content gets tracked and archived,
so it doesn’t get lost and so it can be used for
posterity and in the long term. (foreign languages) Wikitongues has recorded
over 435 languages from over 70 countries. That number changes every day. There are plenty examples of languages being brought back from the dead; there’s Cornish, there’s
Hebrew, there’s Tunica. All of these languages
had one thing in common: when the last native speaker
died, there were materials for the cultural descendants
to bring them back. And so building an open archive of every language in the
world is not just a way of ensuring that people today can promote and teach their languages
to the next generation. It’s a way of ensuring
that future generations can revive their languages
even if they go extinct.