The Linguasphere Register

of the world’s languages and speech communities

On the occasion of the 7th annual Wikimania conference, Haifa, August 2011

Declaration by l’Observatoire linguistique / Linguasphere Foundation

Announced by Barbara Dalby on 5 August 2011 as a “Lightning Talk” at the conference

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The informational site presents the complete data of the Linguasphere Register of the world’s languages & speech communities, as a free public resource.

First published by l’Observatoire linguistique in 2000, the Register provides a systematic framework of 100 zones of geolinguistic reference for the identification of the world’s languages, living or recorded from the past. This framework allows all languages to be viewed as components of a continuous system of human communication, “the linguasphere”.

Since the first decade of this century, the collective evolution of the world’s spoken, written & from now on “orbital” languages may be viewed as the most powerful creation of all humankind. The current explosion of the “orbital linguasphere”, involving the worldwide interfacing of languages online, is transforming humankind into a de facto “transnational” organism.

The recognition of this evolving linguasphere as the equal heritage of every person reveals a fundamental ethical principle of today’s world:

All useful knowledge, created by humankind through the medium of human languages, is by its nature collective & cumulative. It therefore constitutes the free & inalienable birthright of every person.

This principle has already been supported by recent public initiatives such as those of Wikipedia & of Google Translate. It corresponds also to the watchword adopted by l’Observatoire linguistique since 1990:

In the galaxy of languages, the voice of each person is a star.

The primary aim of l’Observatoire linguistique is to develop its website as a free public information service on the world’s languages, including the expansion of its Linguasphere Register and of its linguasphere observatory in Carmarthenshire (Wales).

The Register is being enlarged to include a directory of the rural & urban communities of monolingual & plurilingual speakers of the world’s languages, with the aim of providing a tool in the collective piloting of our planet & our species, now a plurilingual planetary society.

Created at Quebec in 1983, & registered in Upper Normandy as a non-profit association from 1987, l’Observatoire linguistique is establishing its Linguasphere Foundation in Paris from August 2011. The mission of the Foundation is to provide a road-map to assist the strategic exploration & development of the world’s languages, including the deeper study of each of the 100 zones of reference of the Register, commencing in 2011 with: 00 Mandic, 10 Tamazic, 30 Taiwanic, 50 Celtic, 51 Romanic, 53 Slavic & 60 Inuitic.

Parallel to the expansion of the Register, the Linguasphere Fondation will pursue the following objectives, to be presented in Paris in October 2011:

- the global survey of the urban linguasphere, the immense diaspora of the world’s languages spoken & networked among the cities & megacities of the planet (illustrated by the recent CILT survey of over 200 speech communities in London, using the geolinguistic framework of the Linguasphere Register);

- the bilingual partnership of French and English, as a contribution to the construction of a plurilingual system of information & ethics (illustrated by the Observatoire’s bilingual exhibition “Languages of Liberty”, sponsored by Canada & presented at the Pompidou Centre, Paris in 1989);

- the networking of important information through “nets” of related languages (illustrated by the strategic charts prepared in 2005 by l’Observatoire linguistique for WHO, covering the distribution of transnational nets of languages in Africa & Asia);

- the transnational & plurilingual organisation of a “Concours Linguasphère” for the creation of non-national symbols to represent the world’s arterial languages (all languages with above 10 million voices) without using national flags;

- the transnational & plurilingual organisation of “Pluriplanet” discussions on the informational & educational needs of globalised humankind.

This complex programme requires substantial support - material, practical & moral. In particular, the Foundation seeks to establish a voluntary network of linguasphere observers, ready to share the task of collecting & verifying data on the composition & dynamics of the languages of the world.

It is thanks to such a voluntary community that Wikipedia has become the single most extensive source of up-to-date information on the individual languages of the world, with the essential quality of being plurilingual, open-source & free. It is therefore very desirable that the network of linguasphere observers should overlap and interact with the wiki community around the world.

A complementary initiative has been undertaken by Google Translate, the first free software for assisting the worldwide flow of information among over fifty languages.

The Linguasphere Foundation will seek to contribute to and benefit from the evolution of these major plurilingual projects.


To learn more about l’Observatoire Linguistique / the Linguasphere Fondation, and to support its objectives, visit

See also

  • Le concept de la linguasphère et la mission de l’Observatoire linguistique

    Depuis les années 1990, l’Observatoire linguistique explore le concept de la « linguasphère », perçue comme une réalité fondamentale dans l’évolution de l’humanité et de la planète. Selon l’Observatoire : “La linguasphère constitue le continuum planétaire des voix vivantes et écrites de l’humanité, englobant toutes langues et tous les systèmes d’enregistrement et de communication du savoir. En préservant et en transmettant l’héritage collectif des connaissances humaines, la linguasphère a permis à notre espèce de construire à travers les siècles un foyer commun autour de notre planète plurilingue, sous le toit (...)

  • The concept of the linguasphere & the mission of the Observatoire linguistique

    Since the 1990s, the Observatoire linguistique has explored the concept of the “linguasphere”, viewed as a fundamental reality within the evolution of the planet and of humankind. According to the Observatory : "The linguasphere is the planetary continuum of the living and written voices of humankind, embracing all languages __and all systems for the recording and communication of knowledge. In preserving and transmitting the common heritage of all we have learned, the linguasphere has enabled our species to construct through the centuries a collective home around our plurilingual planet, (...)

  • Bienvenue sur

    Ce site constitue la porte ouverte sur le registre Linguasphère des langues et des communautés linguistiques du monde. 9 mai 2011. Une nouvelle ressource en ligne Cette ressource publique ouverte à tous - le registre Linguasphere - fournit la fondation d’un cadre transnational de référence sur les langues parlées et écrites du monde. Le contenu et la structure de cette ressource d’information ont été compilées pour être désormais présentées en ligne par l’Observatoire linguistique, une association (...)

  • A l’occasion du 7e congrès annuel de la Wikimania, à Haifa, août 2011 Déclaration par l’Observatoire Linguistique / Linguasphere Foundation Présentée par Barbara Dalby le 5 août 2011 comme “Lightning Talk” au congrès

    Le site d’informations http:// présente les données complètes du Registre Linguasphère des langues du monde & des communautés de locuteurs, en tant que ressource publique gratuite. D’abord publiée par l’Observatoire linguistique en 2000, le Registre fournit un cadre systématique de 100 zones de référence géolinguistique pour l’identification des langues du monde, vivantes ou héritées du passé. Ce cadre permet une vue globale de langues humaines comme composantes d’un système continu de communication humaine, “la linguasphère”. Depuis la première décennie de ce siècle, l’évolution (...)

  • Vendredi 14 octobre 2011 La linguasphère, système cognitif planétaire

    Conférence de David Dalby à l’Institut Gallilée (Université de Paris XIII - Villetaneuse), vendredi 14 octobre 2011. La linguasphere est le système continu des langues humaines , étendu autour de la Terre au cours d’au moins 500 siècles par les communautés de Homo sapiens loquens – ou plutôt Persona loquens , la « personne qui parle ». La diversité interne de la linguasphere , au sein de son unité planétaire fondamentale , a fourni le cadre plurilingue dynamique nécessaire au progrès collectif de la réflexion, la communication & la créativité humaines . Devenue aujourd’hui orbitale, (...)

  • Friday, october 14th, 2011 The linguasphere, a planetary cognitive system

    David Dalby conference at the Gallilée Institute (University of Paris XIII - Villetaneuse), Friday, October 14th, 2011. The linguasphere is the continuous system of human languages, extended around Earth over at least 500 centuries by communities of Homo sapiens loquens – or rather Persona loquens, “speaking person”. The internal diversity of the linguasphere, within a fundamental planetary unity, has provided the dynamic plurilingual framework necessary for the collective progress of human reflection, communication & creativity. Having now become orbital, the linguasphere may be (...)

  • Welcome to

    This site is the open gateway to the Linguasphere Register of the world’s languages & speech communities. 9th May 2011 - A new online resource This free public resource – the Linguasphere Register - provides the foundation for a transnational framework of reference on the spoken and written languages of the world. The content and structure of this informational resource have been compiled and are now presented online by the Observatoire linguistique, an independent research association known also as the “Linguasphere Observatory”, created in Quebec in 1983 and legally registered in (...)

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