The UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger: Context and Process

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Moseley, Christopher 

As General Editor of the third edition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, Christopher Moseley came to an already-existing project that had been evolving and expanding over two editions, but had yet to truly encompass the whole world. The opportunity to keep continuously abreast of the threats to the world’s weaker languages was created by providing an additional version of the Atlas, accessible online for the first time through the UNESCO website, with an option for users to submit comments and suggestions for amendments and corrections to the more comprehensive data provided in this third edition. In this paper, Moseley retraces the Atlas back to its origins and explain the process of expanding its coverage and enhancing its accessibility to the interested lay user.


Christopher Moseley is General Editor of the third edition of the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger (2010). Alongside linguistic geography, his research interests are in newly written languages and the creation of orthographies to suit them. Moseley completed his Master’s degree in Baltic-Finnic linguistics and his doctoral research in linguistics at the University College London (UCL) School of Slavonic and East European Studies. He has held posts at BBC Monitoring (a branch of the World Service); as Teaching Fellow in Latvian at the Language Centre at UCL; as a freelance translator and editor; and as Treasurer for the Foundation of Endangered Languages. Moseley also co-edited the second edition of the Routledge Atlas of the World’s Languages (2007). He completed this fifth Occasional Paper for the World Oral Literature Project in 2012, on the development of the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

Oral Literature, Oral Tradition, Linguistic Anthropology, UNESCO, Atlas, Endangerment, World's languages
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World Oral Literature Project
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World Oral Literature Project