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UNESCO invites SIL cartographer to language mapping meeting

(November 2007) UNESCO convened the "Expert Meeting on Current Trends in Linguistic Mapping" at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, 29–30 November. An SIL linguistic cartographer was invited to join other linguistic cartographers from around the world to support the preparation of the third edition of the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing.

The focus of this meeting is related to UNESCO activities under the Endangered Languages Programme and the Intangible Cultural Heritage convention. Mrs. Irene F. Tucker, FBCart.S, SIL International Senior Cartographer responsible for language mapping in Africa, was invited to present a paper. Her topic was "The World Language Mapping Project—Methodology and Map Products."

According to UNESCO, the goal of the atlas is to "raise awareness in the international and academic community, mass media and the general public regarding the issue of language endangerment and the need to safeguard the world's linguistic diversity."

Participants discussed current trends and innovations of linguistic cartography, presented case study reports, and assessed approaches, techniques and common problems. They talked about the methodology of linguistic mapping and the presentation of data relevant to the publication of the third edition of the Atlas.

Mrs. Tucker has been involved in the design and production of maps for The Ethnologue, Languages of the World since 1992 and has responsibility for the continuing improvement and revision of the World Language Mapping Database. The Database developed from a wide variety of sources and is continually revised in conjunction with SIL and other linguists. Through the World Language Mapping System, the data is available to other organizations.

As a leader in the research of the world's endangered languages through language survey, SIL facilitates language development to prevent the extinction of language and culture. SIL has been in formal relations with UNESCO since 1993 and in special consultative status since 1998.

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