Who We Are
The Linguistics Research Center (LRC) has dedicated itself to creating freely available online resources for those interested in languages, their history, and their relationship to society and culture the world over.
An Innovative History in Language & Computation
At its inception 60 years ago, the LRC pioneered the field of machine translation. Decades later the fruits of this labor still find use in professional translation software. With the advent of the Internet, the LRC again helped lay the foundations of what has become Digital Humanities, applying computational techniques to the understanding of language and the dissemination of linguistic knowledge. Among the LRC's resources, the Early Indo-European OnLine (EIEOL) collection of language lesson series plays a central role. These lesson series introduce readers to each of the major branches of the Indo-European linguistic family tree, representing a group of languages whose ancient attestations spread from the Scandinavian-settled islands west of Europe to the Indian subcontinent and beyond to the deserts of western China.
Read the Writings of the Ancients — in Their Own Words!
Each EIEOL lesson series introduces readers to one of the earliest documented languages in the family. Users start from the very first lesson learning how to analyze and understand original ancient documents.
Each individual lesson centers around an original text, accompanied by translations and grammatical notes that assist readers in understanding how each and every word fits together. The texts are contextualized for readers with fascinating and engaging historical and cultural background and accessible grammar overviews, introducing readers to the fundamental building blocks of the language that appear in the textual annotation.
Among the 17 lesson series already published we provide introductions to the earliest attested languages in every major branch of Indo-European, such as Vedic Sanskrit on the Indo-Iranian branch, Old Norse in the Germanic group, and Hittite on a lonely branch from Anatolia. Some sub-families show multiple representatives: the lessons on Old Church Slavonic introduce the southern branch of the Slavic family, while Old Russian lessons provide a foray into the history and culture of the early eastern Slavs. Other series show evolution within a sub-family over time: the history of the Romance languages launches with a lesson series on Latin and continues with a separate series on Old French.
Series assume no special knowledge on the part of the reader, nor even particular facility with languages. Readers may access the lessons for free and progress at their own pace through a complete overview of each language.
What We’re Fundraising For
Your donations help us introduce you to more authors and documents of the ancient world, and likewise support new multimedia content like short videos introducing texts and topics in an engaging format.
The creation of the EIEOL collection has taken years of painstaking work, and the low-hanging fruit of introducing the major representatives of each sub-family has been plucked. Now we are embarking on the harder task of filling in the smaller branches of the family tree: languages less familiar, with fewer available materials for learning by non-specialists.
Specifically we seek support for three major initiatives:
- to finish four additional lesson series currently under development on
- Old Italian — read the words of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio in their original language,
- Old Saxon — read the Hêliand, a Gospel harmony for converting early Germanic peoples to Christianity, but written in the epic poetic style of Beowulf,
- Pali — read the teachings of the Buddha in the earliest documents that record his original words,
- Colonial Ch'olti' — expanding our scope to ancient languages of the Americas, look to the indigenous Mayan languages of the New World with some of the rarest texts of the Colonial period;
- to add audio recitations to our ancient annotated texts, a feature we have already piloted for Old English and Old Norse, but which will involve hard work to implement for the remaining 15 series;
- to add videos as introductions to languages and their documents, as well as to provide short overviews of special topics, like the innovative forays of the Sign Change project into the historical linguistics of signed languages.
Your donations will help make and keep these materials available to the tens of thousands around the globe that use them each month.
We know, we know: when people say, “Gothic? I love Gothic!”, they’re usually not talking about the oldest documented Germanic language preserving one of the earliest translations of the New Testament. And in your hometown coffee shop, you’re unlikely to find a meeting of the local book club working on the remains of Tocharian texts. But we here at the LRC know fanatics of these ancient languages are out there: we receive traffic from nearly 30,000 of you per month, from nearly every country on the globe. Your continued interest and enthusiasm — especially in the form of fan mail — keeps us motivated and focused on our mission: bringing scholarly materials on ancient languages and cultures to a non-specialist, linguistically interested audience.
But ancient languages are a hard sell to the administration and to funding agencies. To help assure the continued availability of our current lesson series, and to ensure we are able to produce more, we need your help. Though we already offer numerous lesson series — Old English, Old French, Gothic, Classical Greek, Hittite, Old Iranian, Old Irish, Latin, Old Norse, Old Russian, Sanskrit, Tocharian, … — we still have many more to go. We would be grateful for any amount you could spare. Your generous contributions will go toward funding
- the graduate students and researchers who create and revise lesson content,
- the programmers who continually maintain and improve the website and its functionality, and
- the editorial staff that painstakingly fact-checks lessons and assures both quality and readability.
These crucial elements cannot continue without the support of generous donors like yourself.
The impact of your support echoes far beyond the walls of academia. Have a look at some of the comments from our users:
Are you kidding me? This is one of the best free resources available to us ancient language enthusiasts!
Sometimes our resources support users in the most unexpected ways:
Absolute lifesaver, I love this site to bits, don't ever leave. I am a hobbyist and a writer of fantasy fiction who uses your linguistic resources on the lesser-known Indo-European cultures. I don't have access to a university library or the budget to buy every linguistics textbook ever written. You're doing exactly what universities should be doing in bringing quality materials online for free and I can't possibly thank you enough.
Some find our site totally unique:
Fantastic site! Nothing similar anywhere!
and we happen to agree. Still others would like to see our materials expand to include ever broader audiences:
The website has an impressive collection of resources. They are extremely useful in finding information about ancient languages. I wondered if I could have a permission to translate some extracts of the Old Russian course into Russian/Ukrainian.
Whatever our users' interests, we just aim to give them the tools they need:
What an incredible gift this is! Thank you for making the world a better place.
Help us expand our collection of language lessons. Help us fill out the family tree, providing free resources for anyone with an interest in languages and the crucial role they play in understanding the history of culture, society, religion, and a host of other fascinating aspects of human development.