What is language development?


In today's globalized world, communities who speak lesser-known languages face many challenges. SIL partners with ethnolinguistic minority communities as they build their capacity for the sustainable development of their own languages.

SIL’s service is founded on the principle that communities should be able to pursue their social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual goals without sacrificing their ethnolinguistic identity. Language development cannot be separated from integrated development that affects all areas of a community's life. SIL serves language communities through advocacy, resource-linking, and capacity development. SIL's primary areas of expertise relate to issues of language and culture.

SIL's role in language development is one of partnership with the local community, providing input and facilitating community decision-making and planning toward the community's desired future. 

No language is "undeveloped" in the sense that it is less capable, in principle, than another of expressing whatever a speaker wants to communicate. All languages are complex in their own unique ways, and all are capable of allowing speakers to describe the world in which they live.

As speakers seek to use their language in written materials, alphabet development may be needed. SIL staff have the technical knowledge to identify the sounds of the language that will need to be represented and make recommendations for a writing system. SIL linguists base their recommendations on an understanding of psycholinguistics and best practices in literacy theory so that the developing writing system will cause the least amount of difficulty for speakers seeking to achieve reading fluency.