The Language Archive at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (TLA) holds one of the largest collections of language related research data worldwide. It strives to provide a unique record of how people around the world speak in everyday family life. It focuses on collecting spoken and signed language materials in audio and video form along with transcriptions, analyses, annotations and other types of relevant ancillaries (e.g. photos, accompanying notes). The archive includes speech data from everyday interactions in families and communities, focusing on families with children, but including naturalistic data from adult conversations from under-studied languages and linguistic phenomena. Due to a variety of reasons, including globalization and political repression, many of these under-studied languages are at risk of no longer being spoken by future generations.
TLA’s goal is to preserve its language collections for future use and to make them available for research and other uses both now and in the future. A selection of the archive’s holdings was recognized by UNESCO as Memory of the World in 2015.
In addition to collections of language materials, the archive also holds a range of materials from language-related studies conducted by research staff at the Max Planck Institute. This includes e.g. eye tracking data, fMRI brain scans, gene sequences, and reaction-time measurements. For these types of data, there is a minimum preservation commitment for 10 years after publication, which is a requirement from the Max Planck Society. There are currently no policies to deaccession these materials after this period, but this standpoint will be re-evaluated from time to time.
In order to achieve its goal, TLA has a preservation policy in place.