"Your Language is the most precious element in life that still includes all major values of your ancestors. What does that mean for your children, and your grandchildren and their future?"

Vision & Strategy

Founded 75 years ago, SIL International is a faith-based organization that studies, documents, and assists in developing the world’s lesser-known languages. SIL’s 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. SIL’s 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 world’s endangered languages through language survey, SIL facilitates language development to prevent the extinction of language and culture.

SIL’s premier publication, the Ethnologue: Languages of the World, is a comprehensive catalog of the world’s more than 6,900 living languages.