Across the world today, there are many writing systems whose usage and existence are under threat, as well as many languages lacking an individual means of written expression. Language and writing are both important elements of culture that can suffer as local traditions compete with global means of communication, including supra-regionally popular languages and technologies such as the internet.

One strand of the VIEWS project aims to shed new light on writing system vitality. It will do this by using observations from the worlds of pre-modern writing to try to understand why some systems “die out” while others continue in use – resulting, we hope, in the development of new strategies surrounding the promotion and preservation of writing systems around the world today. This will involve a five-point plan of action:

Strand 1: pursuing and disseminating the underpinning research on the vitality of writing in the pre-modern world, examining the long-term survival or loss of writing systems and traditions, with lessons for the modern day

Strand 2: colloquia and discussion events to explore the theoretical basis for understanding and promoting vitality in writing systems, and to devise plans for the application of results – these will involve not only academics from different disciplines, and artists and typographers, but also members of communities with endangered writing traditions

Strand 3: raising awareness of the endangerment of writing systems and associated cultural traditions in many communities across the world

Strand 4: collaborative ventures to develop strategies for maintaining and revitalising endangered writing systems and traditions

Strand 5: working with communities to help them protect their traditional writing practices and other related aspects of cultural heritage

The Endangered Writing Network will bring together people from different disciplines and backgrounds (including linguists, writing specialists, anthropologists, graphic designers, typographers, activists and members of communities) to facilitate discussion and collaboration. Keep an eye on the VIEWS project website for further news.

Please fill in the contact form below to register your interest in the Endangered Writing Network, or send an email to views@classics.cam.ac.uk.


We are registered as a participant in the UNESCO Decade of Indigenous Languages, 2022-2032.


Excerpt from the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Article 13), 13th September 2007:

Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons.


Partners, collaborators and organisations with closely linked interests

Endangered Alphabets, run by Tim Brookes

Visit the Atlas of Endangered Alphabets


Global Coalition for Language Rights


Endangered Languages Project