American Languages is a project begun in 2003 under the auspices of a three-year National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to digitize, interpret, and make accessible audio recordings documenting linguistic diversity in the United States. The main partners in this project are the Max Kade Institute for German-American Studies (MKI), the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (CSUMC), the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), and the University of Wisconsin Libraries, all at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. To date, the bulk of the digitized materials comprises interviews with speakers of German-American and American English dialects from across the United States. Excerpts from these interviews are complemented by rare recordings of ethnic music from the Mills Music Library, as well as a number of maps, short interpretive essays, and visual images. English translations, where needed, and notes on aspects of linguistic and historical interest accompany the excerpted recordings. American Languages also seeks to devise culturally sensitive permissions procedures that protect language communities such as Native peoples, with the goal of making available on the Web appropriate audio clips of Native languages. Through the American Languages Web site users will also be able to access a database with appropriate metadata describing items within the complete audio collections.
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