Apologies for not being totally clear about the goals for the project. I should have gone through these details sooner.
This project is ultimately part of a larger project sponsored by the Long Now Foundation (www.longnow.org
) in conjunction with Jim Baker's ALLOW initiative (www.icisl.org
). Among other things, we are working toward the prevention of language extinction and toward the equal representation of all living languages through the collection of large and massively multilingual public domain text/audio linguistic corpora. Having a huge collection of recordings of the UDHR in the world's most widely-spoken languages not only enriches the collection of public-domain preservation-oriented materials already on the web and allows for the development of educational materials and speech-related technologies as a result, but it also promotes the set of values represented by the declaration (whose proliferation through the world's language communities is certainly desirable) and enriches LibriVox's collection of recordings and volunteers both.
What I hope to have when this "book" is complete: 300 audio files constituting the entire UDHR recorded by native speakers of the world's 300 most widely-spoken languages. (I can share my list of them with anyone who's interested.) Varra has already made a great deal of progress toward this goal. I may want to follow her in the choice to split the project up into different "volumes," each with a dozen or two languages. For our purposes, the technical characteristics of the recording are more or less irrelevant, as long as quality isn't too low, and while Public Domain status is preferable, we will also accept CC-licensed work (I realize LV's standards differ on both counts; see comments below). [Other languages than the 300 on the list should be accepted as well; I can think of no reason why LV or Long Now or anyone would want to turn down someone volunteering for a language not on the list.]
Since it's part of a larger project, we will be able to utilize some existing LV-external structure and resources to execute this one. For example, I'm working with the Long Now Foundation full-time for at least a year to oversee the completion of our larger project, and will therefore be consistently available to manage the subset of my work that is on LV. Long Now and ALLOW both also have social connections with remote language communities, linguists, and other sources of volunteers which will all help make the job easier.
But these are just a few things to consider. There are still some advantages and disadvantages to using LV for this project:
Advantage: on LibriVox, I may be able to get other volunteers to help BC segments of the project (i.e., if we split it up into volumes and tried to find a BC for each one; I would still need to be responsible for finding the volunteers and directing them to the project, but perhaps they could take it from there). Anne, does this sound likely?
Advantage: LV has an existing workflow with lots of documentation and support, allowing volunteers to be more or less autonomous.
Advantage: LV gets lots of new volunteers who speak lots of new languages.
Disadvantage: LV is useless if the volunteer doesn't speak English.
Disadvantage: PLing is useless if the PLer doesn't speak the non-English language in question.
Disadvantage: LV has stringent audio and copyright requirements that we don't need and may end up wasting time trying to meet.
So now it comes down to analyzing pros and cons. Jim, experienced LV-ers, what do you think?
[A side note about the number of languages to be covered: The 300 most widely-spoken "languages" are actually about 700 distinct languages---the dozens of varieties of "languages" like Chinese and Arabic and Malay are largely responsible for this. If we can get one or two varieties of each language, I will be satisfied that we have represented the 300 most widely-spoken "languages", but if we can get more (or all), I will be ecstatic. Thus I've written "100-700" in the "number of sections in this book" field to accommodate the range of outcomes.]