The University of Groningen Department of Linguistics is in the midst of a project, The Voices of Tundra and Taiga, that will last until June 2005 and “contribute to the strengthening and revitalization of different small indigenous languages of the Russian North, including Nenets, Nivkh, Khanty, Mansi and others.” It is described in detail in the paper “Voices of Tundra and Taiga—Endangered Languages in Russia on the Internet“; here is the summary from the website:

The topic of this project is the study of endangered arctic languages and cultures of the Russian Federation, which must be described rapidly before they become extinct. This research is in the fortunate position that our earlier work on the reconstruction technology for old sound recordings found in archives in St. Petersburg has made it possible to compare languages still spoken in the proposed research area to the same languages as they were spoken more than half a century ago. These sound recordings consist of spoken language, folksongs, fairy tales etc., among others in Siberian languages.
In the proposed project we shall apply the developed techniques to some of the disappearing minority languages and cultures of Russia: Nivkh and Orok on Sakhalin and Yukagir and Tungus languages in Yakutia. Our aim is to set up a phono- and video-library of recorded stories, and of the folklore, singing and oral traditions of the peoples of Sakhalin and Yakutia. For this purpose the existing sound recordings in the archives of Sakhalin and Yakutia will be used together with the results of new fieldwork expeditions. The data will be added to the existing archive material in St. Petersburg and part of it will be made available on the Internet and/or CD-ROM.

I very much look forward to seeing the results when they’re online. (Via an entry at pf’s blog, which has many good Yakut links as well.)

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