Linguistics in SIL focuses on researching undocumented minority languages, training field linguists, and providing resources to assist in linguistic fieldwork.
SIL’s linguists do fieldwork in partnership with native speakers. Together they engage in the collection, analysis, and organization of language data, with the aim of promoting the use of the language in various domains. The tangible result of this cooperative research is publication of technical articles, dictionaries, practical grammars, and written literature, both native-authored and translated.
SIL offers linguistics training in cooperation with universities in various countries of the world. The courses offered are both theoretical and applied with an emphasis on application to fieldwork. SIL also supports fieldwork by producing linguistics resources like textbooks, reference materials, software, and fonts that are designed to assist linguists in the field.
Although we use current linguistics theory in our collection and analysis of data, our specialty is in employing that theory in applied linguistic tasks. Our researchers come from a variety of linguistics schools and as an organization, we take a rather eclectic approach to field linguistics.
Archiving and publishing of language data are done in many ways and places around the world in coordination with local institutions, researchers, and speakers of the language. As part of this effort, we are preparing an increasing amount of language data for electronic accessibility.