When Daniel Bogre Udell turned 13, the small world he knew in the Poconos expanded into a much larger one in the kitchen of a local restaurant where he was working as a busboy.
It was the first time Bogre Udell, now 27, heard people speaking to one another in Spanish. That sparked a passion that has led him on a mission to record and curate all the world's languages.
Thanks to a network of hundreds of volunteers who've recorded themselves and others speaking, Wikitongues, the nonprofit he co-founded, has cataloged more than 400 of the world's 7,097 languages.
Bogre Udell said Wikitongues has recorded languages from the Brazilian rain forest that sound like "birds chirping," along with the clicking consonants of Bantu spoken in central and South Africa, and Pennsylvania Dutch, the unique, small language spoken by the Amish in his own backyard.
He's worried that not all languages will last long enough to be recorded. Every two weeks, he said, a language dies. Sometimes existing languages are spoken by only a handful of people.
"There's about 500 languages that are seriously at risk," he said.
There are a variety of reasons languages die out, including war, massacres and genocides and remoteness. Some simply fall into disuse as younger generations focus on fitting in with contemporary society. Others face laws making their use illegal.
Bogre Udell, who has a bachelor's degree in fine arts and a master's in historical studies, said he first learned about the politics of language in the Catalonian region of Spain while studying abroad. The region has long sought independence, and speaking Catalan was banned by dictator Francisco Franco.
One of the goals of Wikitongues, he said, is to give activists a platform to revitalize languages rather than fully assimilate them into larger ones.
"We're like a front door to the broader process. Minority languages. Things have changed. Politics have changed," he said.
The Wikitongues YouTube channel has close to 41,000 subscribers. The most popular video is a combination of English and Gullah, a distinctive Creole language spoken by African-Americans along the coast and on the islands off South Carolina and Georgia. Another popular video shows a woman speaking Shetlandic, from the Shetland Islands north of Scotland.
Bogre Udell started Wikitongues as a project while working on his master's degree but kept it going forward with co-founder Frederico Andrade. Borge Udell said there are plans to work with the Library of Congress soon and, ideally, more universities and government agencies aimed at preserving culture.
"The European Union is one of the best places in the world for reviving and revitalizing unique languages," he said.
Not all languages have ancient traditions, like Klingon, inspired by "Star Trek." Those languages are called constructed languages, or "conlangs," and their popularity waxes and wanes with the times.
"Klingon is far less learned today," he said. "Today, Dothraki, from 'Game of Thrones,' is more popular."
The largest constructed language is Esperanto, created in 1887 by L.L. Zamenhof with the goal of uniting humanity. It is estimated that 2 million people can speak it.
"We certainly couldn't turn down Esperanto," Bogre Udell said. "It borrows from all the major languages in Europe."