Cardiff's centre for language and communication research is to assess the impact of globalisation on languages such as Welsh, Finnish, Tamil and Polish in a five-year, Pounds 1 million research programme.
The project, which is being led by Theo van Leeuwen and financed by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, will investigate the impact of transnational corporations on language and culture around the world.
Cardiff University is well placed to monitor the erosion of indigenous languages. Despite massive financial and political support - S4C is, per head of population, the world's most heavily subsidised television channel - Welsh remains vulnerable.
The university will also consider the impact of tourism as a global industry, the quality of life and health care we can expect within a global community, and it will take a special look at the effects of globalisation on Welsh language and identity.
The future of English will also come under scrutiny. Professor Leeuwen's team will investigate globalisation's impact on non-minority languages such as Spanish, Hindi, Chinese and English.
"It is often suggested that globalisation is leading to the imposition of 'world English' and the death of other languages," said Professor van Leeuwen. "But in fact the large American companies now believe that you have to sell to people in their own language and they employ an increasing number of linguists."