Urban languages archive is world's largest

October 18, 2012
Urban languages archive is world's largest

A University of Manchester archive set up in 2010 to document, protect and support the languages spoken in one of Europe's most diverse cities, is now the world's largest. The web based Multilingual Manchester, which documents the city's diverse  linguistic tradition of over 100 languages, will celebrate its success at an event tomorrow (18 October).

The archive at mlm.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/, authored by linguistics students and available for free, now contains over 100 reports on multilingualism and language minorities in Manchester.

The public are also invited to send in material to the website which contains information on languages including Yoruba, Urdu, Yiddish, Kurdish, Romani, , Armenian, French, Punjabi, Bengali, Somali and Polish.

Project co-organiser Professor Yaron Matras, based at the newly launched School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, said: "Manchester is already a model of tolerance and and the University is taking an active part in understanding and tackling the challenges that diversity entails.

"Our reports show how Manchester health services, as well as businesses, are increasingly embracing multilingualism to reach their target audiences of clients and customers, and that are therefore becoming an important asset in the service and retail sectors.

"Around two thirds of Mancunian are bilingual  - a huge figure which indicates just how precious its linguistic culture is.

"So we're proud that MLM allows researchers and students to make a difference to their local community by providing local services with information on the needs of the different language communities.

"It's also about helping communities understand one another by raising awareness of languages and cultures.

"There are examples of linguistic  archives elsewhere-  but Multilingual Manchester is now far bigger than anything else  - so we're very proud of that."

Professor Matras' team has been working closely with local authorities and schools to advise on community cohesion.

They have worked with the NHS on prioritising languages for information and advice on access to health care, for various city council agencies and schools.

But the project has also offered students the opportunity to experience cultural diversity and to engage in active research within Manchester's communities.

Professor Matras added: "So little data on this area is available – but we do known that in Manchester's schools, 65 different languages are spoken.

"Some 30% of secondary school pupils in Manchester – that's 7,000 people-  have a other than English as their first tongue.

"So if you account for bilingual households, a figure as high as 60% of all Manchester pupils may be multilingual."

Explore further: Multilingualism brings communities closer together

More information: An interactive exhibition piloted at Manchester Museum last year is available here: mlm.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/ 


Related Stories

Multilingualism brings communities closer together

February 10, 2009

Learning their community language outside the home enhances minority ethnic children's development, according to research led from the University of Birmingham. The research, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research ...

Efforts to save endangered languages

December 14, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- There are an estimated 6,500 languages in the world, with around fifty percent of them endangered and likely to cease to exist by 2100, but efforts are now being made to save them from extinction.

Language diversity will make London a true global player

May 10, 2012

Understanding linguistic diversity among London's schoolchildren is key for the city's future as a 'global player', research shows. A study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) mapped the distribution ...

Most European languages in danger of digital extinction

September 25, 2012

Scientists from The University of Manchester were part of a European team of researchers who concluded that digital assistance for 21 of the 30 languages investigated is 'non-existent' or 'weak' at best.

Recommended for you

Just how good (or bad) is the fossil record of dinosaurs?

August 28, 2015

Everyone is excited by discoveries of new dinosaurs – or indeed any new fossil species. But a key question for palaeontologists is 'just how good is the fossil record?' Do we know fifty per cent of the species of dinosaurs ...

Fractals patterns in a drummer's music

August 28, 2015

Fractal patterns are profoundly human – at least in music. This is one of the findings of a team headed by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen and Harvard University ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.