What we are working on here at Ethnologue Central

After the holiday break, Ethnologue Central has burst into a flurry of activity.  Here are some of the things that we are working on.

The 18th Edition is getting closer to being ready for release. We're aiming for the end of February (we always try to make the annual update happen on or around International Mother Language Day which falls on February 21). The web edition will be updated with the most recent data including the results of the most recent round of ISO 639-3 changes.  That, of course, means that there will be a whole new set of statistics for the number of living languages, the number of languages in each of the vitality categories, and changes in populations, locations, and other interesting bits of information about each of the languages and countries. Some of the current maps are being revised and reformatted, and there are also going to be a couple of brand new maps. Next month's Ethnoblog post will provide all those details.

That data "refresh" will also mean that we'll be preparing an updated set of Ethnologue products: the Global Dataset will be updated, and each of the country reports and regional volumes will contain the most recent data and some new features as well. Many of those products were new or newly formatted with the 17th edition and now that we have the production process (more or less) worked out, we expect to be able to make the updated print (and digital) products available much more quickly and cleanly this time round. 

For the longer term, we have also just launched a research project aimed at trying to develop a way to report on and describe language policies country by country.  We have an intern who has joined us for a few months who is doing a lot of reading right now on language policy as well as collecting case studies from around the world. We'll analyze the results of her work and see if we can produce a concise, globally-applicable way to describe the policy environment in each country.  If any of you are language policy wonks and want to know more or want to give us some pointers towards existing categorizations, leave a comment below or use the Contact Form (or just send an email). Even if there is just something regarding policy that you've been wishing that Ethnologue (or anyone) would provide, let us know.  No guarantees that we'll be able to implement everybody's suggestions, but knowing what would be helpful to you is very helpful to us.

As you might imagine, each new edition involves a lot of work not only in collecting the data updates--a process that has been going on for months now--but also in proofreading and formatting. As we get closer to each deadline, our excitement grows in seeing how the Ethnologue has improved "this time."  We also are reminded each time how much more needs to be done.  Trust me, we are aware that there are lapses and inconsistencies.  We're really grateful for the Ethnologue staff here and for contributors and commenters all around the world who point out many things that need to be fixed--may their tribe increase!  As always, we welcome your feedback and look forward to communicating with you as the year goes on.