Discover SIL

What does the acronym "SIL" stand for?

The acronym “SIL” originally stood for Summer Institute of Linguistics. However, the organization is now known as SIL International.  GO TO Our History >>

What is language development?

In SIL, language development involves working with speakers of lesser known languages to help them achieve their goals as a community through language planning and intercultural development efforts. In many cases this means the development and promotion of written forms of their language and the production of literature. 
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What are endangered languages?

How do researchers know when a language is dying? Does "endangered" mean "doomed?"

Many factors contribute to a language becoming endangered. SIL makes concerted efforts to survey languages, evaluate their vitality, facilitate language development, and where possible, support members of the speech community in their desire to document and maintain their language and culture.

The danger of languages dying out is real, and SIL believes every language and culture is part of the mosaic of humanity. SIL is concerned for languages, the people who speak them, and the cultures they express. 

What is language assessment?

Researching the world’s languages in their social environments.

Language assessment staff work with speech communities to better understand their patterns of language use and gather information for language development planning. Through language assessment research, previously unreported languages are being identified, increasing the world’s knowledge of where languages are spoken.

Language assessment staff also monitor language development activities once they begin, to assess the progress, followed by an evaluation of the activities’ impact.
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What is the Ethnologue?

The Ethnologue is an encyclopedic reference work cataloging all of the world’s 7,105 known living languages.

The Ethnologue is intended to be used as a catalog that provides summary data of identified languages.

Information comes from numerous sources and is confirmed by consulting both reliable published sources and a network of field correspondents. 
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How can I donate to SIL?

How can I get involved?

How is SIL funded?

Resources for the work of SIL are provided primarily by individuals and organizations interested in their work. In addition, for many of its larger projects, SIL seeks grants from a variety of other sources, both public and private. Less than one percent of its income derives from any sort of government source.

How does one donate to SIL?

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