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The Instituto Lingüístico de Verano in Mexico

The Instituto Lingüístico de Verano ("Summer Institute of Linguistics") in Mexico is a nonprofit organization that studies the indigenous languages of the country. It publishes dictionaries, grammars, literacy materials, traditional stories, and (in cooperation with organizations such as the Liga Bíblica de México and the United Bible Societies) translated biblical texts in those languages.


The organization began in Mexico in 1936 with the help and friendship that the then-President General Lázaro Cárdenas offered to its founder, William Cameron Townsend. As the work progressed, the number of languages studied gradually increased and the Institute continued to receive the support of subsequent governments and the backing and advice of distinguished Mexicans.


From Mexico, the work has spread until today SIL International (the international organization affiliated with ILV) has worked in more than 1200 languages in more than fifty countries, such as Australia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Sudan, Togo, the United States, and others. SIL's linguistic investigation has been completed in Bolivia, Ecuador and Suriname.


More than 6900 languages are spoken in the world. Of these, about 3000 are still unwritten. Those whose speakers do not know how to read and write have only limited access to certain basic opportunities. They are the ones whom SIL seeks to serve.



"Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, founded by the distinguished indigenist William Townsend, is an institution that is worthy of commendation. It is fortunate that it has pledged itself for several years now to a work so generous that it will benefit not only the monolingual Indian communities but all of Mexico..."


Manuel Gamio, social anthropologist and archaeologist, in A William Cameron Townsend en el vigésimoquinto aniversario del Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, 1961.