Monthly Archives: June 2011

300 Languages Record-a-thon

On July 30th, 2011 we will meet at the Internet Archive in San Francisco, where volunteers will record the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in their native language(s). Mightyverse volunteers will assist recording at several recording stations. Each station will be equiped with a video camera, monitor, lighting, microphone and Mightyverse PhraseFarm teleprompter system to enable the capture of spoken language. These high quality recordings of native speakers will be made available at under a Creative Commons license.

Mightyverse is excited to support the Long Now Foundation‘s 300 languages project in its July 30th 2011 record-a-thon. The goal of the 300 languages project is to record spoken language that has parallel translations in at least 300 languages. Towards that effort, Laura Welcher and her team at The Rosetta Project (an ongoing effort by The Long Now Foundation) have identified texts that already exist in parallel translations. Of those texts, we at Mightyverse were especially excited by the UDHR.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is the most translated document in the world and has over 400 translations. It was ratified by the United Nations in 1948. The UDHR was the first international recognition that all human beings have fundamental rights and freedoms and it continues to be a relevant document today over 60 years later. The UDHR continues to be a very important inspiration for millions of people, and through our efforts with The Long Now Foundation, The Internet Archives and Mightyverse, our hope is to create a lasting archive of language that extends the mission that was set forth over 60 years ago.

We believe that language is the key to cultural understanding, our ability to create a peaceful prosperous world and literally our survival as people on this planet. We are very excited to participate in this project.

Please join us. If you can be in SF, you can record with Mightyverse. If you are remote, you can submit recordings of the UDHR or other spoken language that you record on your own:

Language Rights in South Africa

The South African Bill of Rights, enacted in 1996, provides very broad protections for human rights as part of the constitution, including strong protections for language and culture. Here are some excerpts:

  • “Everyone has the right to receive education in the official language or languages of their choice” (29.2)
  • “Everyone has the right to use the language and to participate in the cultural life of their choice” (30)


Naturally, the Bill of Rights is available on the web it in the other 10 official languages:

From 2001 Census reports, fewer than 1% of South Africans speak a native language that is not one of the 11 official languages ( via wikipedia). Visiting South Africa, I have enjoyed the rich diversity of language and culture. Of South Africa’s 11 official languages, I speak only English, but I’ve overheard many conversations in a great variety of languages and I’ve noticed that most South Africans speak at least two languages and many speak 5 or 7.