"If your God is so mighty, why doesn't He speak my language?"
A Cakchiquel (Guatemala) man to SIL founder William Cameron Townsend
Founded 75 years ago, SIL International is a faith-based organization that studies, documents, and assists in developing the worlds lesser-known languages. SILs staff shares a Christian commitment to service, academic excellence, and professional engagement through literacy, linguistics, translation, and other academic disciplines. SIL makes its services available to all without regard to religious belief, political ideology, gender, race, or ethnic background.
SIL (initially known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics) has grown from a small summer linguistics training program with two students in 1934 to a staff of over 6,000 coming from over 60 countries. SILs linguistic investigation exceeds 2,550 languages spoken by over 1.2 billion people in more than 70 countries.
SIL focuses on unwritten languages. People who speak these languages often live in geographic, social, and economic isolation. Studying these languages results in practical help for local people and contributes to the broader knowledge of linguistics, anthropology, and ethnomusicology. SIL publishes its research and widely distributes it to libraries, universities, governments, and international agencies.
As a leader in the research of the worlds endangered languages through language survey, SIL facilitates language development to prevent the extinction of language and culture.
SILs premier publication, the Ethnologue: Languages of the World, is a comprehensive catalog of the worlds more than 6,900 living languages.