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A "language observatory" is something which is built or implemented to observe language activities in society. The need for creating such an instrument is becoming more and more evident in view of the fact that a growing number of languages are endangered.
The need for observatories
According to the UNESCO report "Atlas of the World Languages in Danger of Disappearing", it has been estimated that between 6,000 and 7,000 languages are spoken throughout the world today and, that many more have become extinct. The danger is more imminent in the cyberspace. Another UNESCO document, "Recommendation concerning the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace" noted in its preamble that "linguistic diversity in the global information networks and universal access to information in cyberspace are at the core of contemporary debates and can be a determining factor in the development of a knowledge-based society", and recommended that UNESCO establish "a collaborative online observatory on existing policies, regulations, technical recommendations, and best practices relating to multilingualism and multilingual resources and applications, including innovations in language computerization."
Language observatories in the world
Several language observatory activities and projects have already emerged in various parts of the world, such as Language Observatory, and UNESCO Observatory on the Information Society, which has a section focusing on Cultural Diversity and Multilingualism.
- Measuring Linguistic Diversity on the Internet, edited with an introduction by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, Montreal Canada, UNESCO, 2005. French version is also available.
- The Language Observatory Project, Mikami, Y., Zavarsky Pavol, Mohd Zaidi Abd Rozan, Izumi Suzuki, Masayuki Takahashi, Tomohide Maki, Irwan Nizan Ayob, Massimo Santini, Paolo Boldi, Sebastiano Vigna, In Poster Proceedings of the Fourteenth International World Wide Web Conference (WWW2005). pp. 990–991,10–14 May 2005, Chiba, JAPAN. ISBN 1-59593-051-5