Communities developing resources and competencies for using their languages
Foundational understanding for language development work of all kinds
Publications, fonts and computer tools for language development, translation and research
SIL offers training in disciplines relevant to sustainable language development.
Over 7,000 languages are spoken or signed. CLICK for map of world languages & regional websites.
SIL's commitment to see people flourishing using the languages they value most.
Since most minority language communities feel pressure to assimilate to a globalizing world, many speakers are shifting to a language other than the one they spoke when they were growing up. This causes their heritage language to become endangered, which will lead to its eventual extinction.
Due to social and economic pressures, speakers of many smaller or less dominant languages stop using their heritage language and begin using a more dominant language.
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When a language is under threat, so is a people's identity. When a language dies, the world loses that unique expression of culture and world view, and the linguistic uniqueness it represents. Respecting all peoples, languages and cultures, SIL is dedicated to coming alongside language communities as they strive to preserve their languages and identities.
Go to this interactive map and click on a dot to learn details about that particular language. In the details you will see a graph that illustrates where the language is on the scale of endangerment.
Where is your language on this scale?
Find where your language is on the scale. Choose the description that best fits your language.
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One of SIL’s major contributions to the documentation and possible preservation of endangered languages is the language reference database known as the Ethnologue: Languages of the World.
What does language endangerment mean for these communities? Some languages are fading; others strive valiantly to hold onto their cultural heritage and the language that embodies it.
Once a language community determines which of the sustainable levels of use it wants to work towards, a language development program can be designed.
Those concerned about language endangerment recognize the implications of the loss of a people's identity, their world view and the world's linguistic diversity and social environment.