SIL Philippines


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Serving Language Communities through Linguistics, Literacy and Translation since 1953


Working in partnership with government agencies, the academic community, and indigenous language communities, SIL linguists assist in the documentation and description of Philippine languages and the development of resources in those languages. Historically, SIL's efforts have been focused on two basic questions:

1. What languages exist in the Philippines?
The results of research on Philippine languages, by SIL linguists and others, are summarized in the Ethnologue, which provides the most complete listing available of Philippine languages.
2. What are their characteristics?
The characteristics of Philippine languages have motivated numerous academic publications over the years. Description of a language often begins with an analysis of its sound system (phonology). Phonological analysis reveals the number of distinctive sounds in a language, the knowledge of which benefits those involved in alphabet design (orthography). Linguists also analyze words (morphology) and their meanings (semantics), and how words combine (syntax) to form constructions of varying levels of complexity, from phrases to sentences to larger chunks of discourse. Philippine languages are especially noted for their complex verb morphology.

Linguistic Research and Training
Since 1953, SIL has conducted at least preliminary research in over 90 Philippine languages, and helped train linguists, language researchers, language associates, translators and teachers through formal and nonformal means. SIL actively participates in the Linguistic Society of the Philippines and assists in staffing Applied Linguistics Programs.