The commission "Vanishing Languages and Cultural Heritage" (VLACH) was founded in September 2016 with the goal of documenting and analysing the vanishing linguistic and cultural diversity throughout the world. The commission’s members, project leaders and scientific staff strive to create a legacy that goes beyond the documentation, analysis and long-term archiving of linguistic and cultural heritage; they aim for more academic engagement with language, an open access policy of user-friendly collections which can better serve both scientific research and the communities whose aim is to preserve their oral heritage.

We wish:

  • to spot and prioritize the cultures and linguistic varieties that are in critical danger of extinction and in urgent need of documentation,
  • to develop projects that carry out documentation work,
  • to encourage, through our activities and projects, public recognition and representation of the language communities in direct collaboration with community members,
  • to develop focused studies analysing subject areas such as inter- and inner-linguistic variation, language shift, language transfer and all phenomena concerning disappearing or endangered linguistic varieties, cultures and identities,
  • to support the promotion of language from inside the language communities and encourage young scholars and language activists develop community-driven language and culture documentation,
  • to strengthen networking between language communities.

For the multimedia collections of annotated field research, we have developed a data repository at the publishing house of the Academy of Sciences and an open-access online platform. Besides this, the research results will be published in the new founded VLACH publication series.

Welcoming message by Prof. Thede Kahl, chairman of the VLACH commission: