SIL International is a non-profit, faith-based, scientific organization with the main purpose to study, develop and document lesser-known languages for the purpose of expanding linguistic knowledge, promoting world literacy and aiding minority language development. It provides resources in language research through Ethnologue.com.
SIL International, originally the Summer Institute of Linguistics, started as a small summer training session in Arkansas in 1934 to familiarize missionaries of what later became Wycliffe Bible Translators with basic linguistic, anthropological and translation principles. The founder was William Cameron Townsend (1896–1982), a missionary to Guatemala. One of the students at this first summer institute was Kenneth L. Pike (1912–2000), who was to become the foremost figure in the history of SIL. He served as SIL's President from 1942–1979 and then as President Emeritus until his death in 2000. Dr. Pike was nominated fifteen consecutive years (1982-1996) for the Nobel Peace Prize. SIL's current president is Carolyn P. Miller, who took the office in 1999 and participates in the liguistics program at Houghton College.
SIL holds formal consultative status with UNESCO and United Nations. SIL also holds non-government organization status in many countries. SIL provides instructors and instructional materials for linguistics programs at several major institutions of higher learning. In the US these include Biola University, Moody Bible Institute, Houghton College, University of North Dakota, Northwest Christian College, Bryan College, University of Texas at Arlington, University of Oregon, and Dallas Theological Seminary. Other universities with SIL programs include Trinity Western University in Canada and Northern Territory University in Australia.
The international headquarters of SIL are at
- 7500 West Camp Wisdom Road
- Dallas, Texas, 75236 USA
SIL assigns three letter codes to languages. Some common SIL codes are listed below.
The entire list can be dowloaded from http://www.ethnologue.com/codes/#downloading