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Introduction to the Printed Volume

Since the last edition of the Ethnologue (2000), the publication passed the 50-year mark of compiling information concerning the languages of the world. As knowledge of the world’s languages increases, so does the number of identified languages. This edition reflects an increase of 103 previously unidentified languages. Most of these are not newly discovered languages, but are ones that had been previously considered dialects of another language. Complete information on all of the world’s languages is not available; thus the total number of living languages in the world cannot be known precisely. Because languages are dynamic and undergo constant change, there will never be a stable number of the living languages of the world.

The purpose of the Ethnologue is to provide a comprehensive listing of the known living languages of the world. Information comes from numerous sources and is confirmed by consulting both reliable published sources and a network of field correspondents. This information is compiled under several specific categories and no effort is made to gather data beyond those categories. (For a complete listing of categories, see “Layout of language entries” below.) The Ethnologue is intended more as a catalog than as an encyclopedia. Greater detail on a number of languages can be found in other works like the International Encyclopedia of Linguistics (Frawley 2003), The World’s Major Languages (Comrie 1987), and The Atlas of Languages (Comrie, Matthews, and Polinsky 1997).

The information given here can be useful to linguists, translators, anthropologists, bilingual educators, government officials, aid workers, potential field investigators, missionaries, students, and others with language interests.

History of the Ethnologue

The Ethnologue was founded by Richard S. Pittman who was motivated by the desire to share information on language development needs around the world with his colleagues in SIL International as well as with other language researchers.

The first edition in 1951 was 10 mimeographed pages and included information on 46 languages or groups of languages. Maps were first included in the fourth edition (1953). The publication transitioned from mimeographed pages to a book in the fifth edition (1958). Dr. Pittman continued to expand his research through the seventh edition (1969) which listed 4,493 languages.

In 1971 Barbara F. Grimes became editor. She had assisted with the Ethnologue since 1953 (fourth edition) and took on the role of research editor in 1967 for the seventh edition (1969). She continued as editor through the fourteenth edition (2000). In 1971 information was expanded from primarily minority languages to encompass all known living languages of the world. Between 1967 and 1973 Ms. Grimes completed an in-depth revision of the information on Africa, the Americas, the Pacific, and a few countries of Asia. During her years as editor, the number of identified languages grew from 4,493 to 6,809, and the information recorded on each expanded so that the published work more than tripled in size.

The data given here are all taken from a computerized database on languages of the world established by then consulting editor, Joseph Grimes, in 1971 from the typesetting tapes for the seventh edition (1969). The work was done at the University of Oklahoma under a grant from the National Science Foundation. In 1974 the database was moved to a computer at Cornell University where Dr. Grimes was professor of linguistics; it was moved to a personal computer in 1979. Since 2000 it has been housed at the headquarters of SIL International in Dallas, Texas. A presentation of all languages is accessible at The fact that the entries are constructed by computer accounts for a certain redundancy or stiffness in the phrasing.

One feature of the database since its inception has been a system of three-letter language identifiers. The codes were first published with the following explanation in a monograph reporting the results of the grant to build the database:

Each language is given a three-letter code on the order of international airport codes. This aids in equating languages across national boundaries, where the same language may be called by different names, and in distinguishing different languages called by the same name. (J. Grimes 1974:i)

While the codes were used behind the scenes in the database that generated the eighth and ninth editions, it was not until the tenth edition (1984) that they appeared in the publication itself.

This fifteenth edition marks an important milestone in the development of the language identifiers, namely, their emergence as a draft international standard. In 1998, the International Organization for Standardization adopted ISO 639-2—its standard for three-letter language identifiers. That was based on a convergence of ISO 639-1 (its earlier standard for two-letter language identifiers adopted in 1988) and of ANSI Z39.53 (also known as the MARC language codes, a set of three-letter identifiers developed within the library community and adopted as an American National Standard in 1987). The current standard, ISO 639-2, has proven insufficient for many purposes since it has identifiers for fewer than 400 individual languages. Thus in 2002, ISO TC37/SC2 invited SIL International to participate in the development of a new standard based on the language identifiers in the Ethnologue that would be a superset of ISO 639-2 and would provide identifiers for all known languages. In this edition of the Ethnologue, hundreds of codes have been changed in order to achieve alignment with ISO 639-2, and the proposed new standard, ISO 639-3, has passed the first round of balloting to attain the status of Draft International Standard. The three-letter language identifiers in this edition of the Ethnologue are thus the codes of ISO/DIS 639-3.

The problem of language identification

Due to the nature of language and the various perspectives brought to its study, it is not surprising that a number of issues prove controversial. Of preeminence in this regard is that of the definition of language itself. Since languages do not have self-identifying features, what actually constitutes a language must be operationally defined. That is, the definition of language one chooses depends on the purpose one has in identifying a language. Some base their definition on purely linguistic grounds. Others recognize that social, cultural, or political factors must also be taken into account.

Increasingly, scholars are recognizing that languages are not always easily treated as discrete isolatable units with clearly defined boundaries between them. Rather, languages are more often continua of features that extend across both geographic and social space. In addition, there is growing attention being given to the roles or functions that language varieties play within the linguistic ecology of a region or a speech community.

The Ethnologue approach to listing and counting languages as though they were discrete, countable units, does not preclude a more dynamic understanding of the linguistic makeup of the countries and regions in which clearly distinct varieties can be distinguished while at the same time recognizing that those languages and their “dialects” exist in a complex set of relationships to each other. Every language is characterized by variation within the speech community that uses it. Those varieties, in turn, are more or less divergent from one another. These divergent varieties are often referred to as dialects. They may be distinct enough to be considered separate languages or sufficiently similar as to be considered merely characteristic of a particular geographic region or social grouping within the speech community.

Not all scholars share the same set of criteria for what constitutes a “language” and what features define a “dialect.” The Ethnologue applies the following basic criteria:

Endangered languages

Language endangerment is a serious concern to which linguists and language planners have turned their attention in the last decade. For a variety of reasons, speakers of some languages are motivated to stop using their language and to use another. Parents may begin to use only that second language with their children. Eventually there may be no speakers who use the language as their first or primary language and frequently the language ceases to be used altogether and the language becomes extinct—existing, perhaps, only in recordings or written records and transcriptions. The concern about language endangerment is centered, first and foremost, around the factors which motivate speakers to abandon their language and the consequences of language death for the community of (former) speakers of that language. Since language is closely linked to culture, loss of language almost always is accompanied by social and cultural disruptions as well. Secondarily, those concerned about language endangerment recognize the implications of the loss of linguistic diversity both for the linguistic and social environment generally and for the academic community which is devoted to the study of language more specifically.

There are two dimensions to the evaluation and characterization of endangerment—the number of speakers of the language and the number and nature of the domains in which the language is used. A language may be endangered because there are fewer and fewer people who speak that language. It may also, or alternatively, be endangered because it is being used for fewer and fewer functions. The Ethnologue attempts to provide data on both of these dimensions whenever it is available.

Language endangerment is a matter of degree. At one end of the scale are languages that are vigorous and perhaps are even expanding in numbers of speakers or functional areas of use. At the other end are languages that are on the verge of extinction. In between are many degrees of greater or lesser endangerment. The Ethnologue does not attempt to identify the level of endangerment of each language listed but does specifically identify those languages at the far end of the scale by indicating “Nearly extinct” at the end of the language entry. A language is listed as nearly extinct when the speaker population is fewer than 50 or when the number of speakers is a very small fraction of the ethnic group. In this edition, 497 languages are so designated.

How to identify the level of endangerment of the other languages, however, is not necessarily clear. Linguists seek to identify trends in language use, such as a decrease in the number of speakers or a decrease in the use of the language in certain domains or functions. An increase in bilingualism, both in the number of bilinguals and in their proficiency levels, is often associated with these trends. When data are available, the following factors which may contribute to endangerment are reported in the language entries: small population size, bilingualism, urbanization, modernization, migration, industrialization, the function of each language within a society, and whether or not children are learning it. Such factors interact within a society in dynamic ways that are not necessarily predictable. As a scholarly consensus forms that can be applied worldwide, a scale of endangerment is becoming increasingly possible. In the meantime, only brief statements about the above factors are given for each language as data becomes available. (See also Hale, K., M. Krauss, L. Watahomigie, A. Yamamoto, C. Craig, L. Masayevsa Jeane, and N. England. 1992. Endangered languages. Language 68(1):1–42.)

Plan of the book

Following this introduction, the content of the book consists of six major sections.

Statistical Summaries. This section offers a summary view of the world language situation. Specifically, it offers numerical tabulations of living languages and number of speakers by world area, by language size, by language family, and by country.

Languages of the World. This section provides detailed information on all known living languages of the world organized by area and by country. Each country is introduced by an overview paragraph (see “Layout of country headers” below). Language entries under each country are in alphabetical order and provide a summary description of the language, structured by a set of categories (see “Layout of language entries” below). The bibliography is located at the end of this section.

Language Maps. This section provides language maps for most countries of the world. Continent maps and a world map are given to help orient the reader to the location of specific countries and continents. No political statement is intended by the placement of any boundary lines for any languages or countries on any map. See “Language maps” below for more details on the maps and how they were produced.

Language Name Index. This is an index of the 39,491 distinct names that are associated with the 7,299 languages in this edition. It is an alphabetical list of all the language names, alternate names, dialect names, and alternate dialect names that appear in the language entries. Instructions for using the index are given on its first page.

Language Code Index. This is an alphabetical index of the 7,299 three-letter language identification codes that are used throughout the volume. Instructions for using the index are given on its first page.

Country Index. This alphabetical index of country names lists the page on which the section for that country begins in the main part of the book, and the page on which its maps begin if there are any.

Layout of country headers

Languages are listed by country under each major geographic area. The entry for a country begins with a header giving summary information about the country. This header is followed by an entry for each language of the country that is not a recent immigrant. The country header has the following form:

Official country name. Country population. National or official languages. Country literacy rates. Nonindigenous languages. Sources of information. Blind population. Deaf population. Language counts.

Official country name. This is the name used by the country in its official documents. In most cases this differs from the popular name as given in the section title and in the Country Index.

Country population. These figures are 2004 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

National or official languages. National languages are those languages spoken by a large portion of the population of a nation. Official languages are those that have been designated as such by an official body.

Country literacy rates. These rates are estimates of the percentage of the population in the country that is literate in some language. Data are from various sources.

Nonindigenous languages. All languages spoken in a country are not necessarily listed as separate entries in the Ethnologue, especially nonindigenous or immigrant languages that are still spoken in the country of origin and apparently have no significant dialect differences between the two locations. Known nonindigenous languages are listed in the country header, with population estimate if known. They are not included in the language counts for that country. Information about nonindigenous languages is incomplete and may be incorrect. Corrections and contributions are invited for this category. See “Corrections” below for submission instructions.

Sources of information. The major sources of information for each country are given. A fuller bibliography of sources used appears in the Bibliography at the end of “Part I: Languages of the World.” Sources not listed in the Bibliography are from personal communication with scholars knowledgeable in the area.

Blind population. There are reported to be from 23,000,000 to 40,000,000 or more blind people in the world. Information on the number of blind people in each country is given in the country header. Population data are from various sources. Information about the availability of Braille codes and Braille literature is given under specific languages. Readers are encouraged to submit additional information on the number of blind people in specific language groups, availability and standardization of Braille codes, and literature published or in progress.

Deaf population. There are millions of deaf and hearing-impaired people in the world. Information on the number of deaf people and an approximate count of the deaf institutions (schools, clubs, associations) is given in the country header. The deaf sign languages listed in language entries are those used exclusively within deaf communities. They do not include those, like Signed English, that spell out spoken languages used in the country. Please send additional information on deafness and deaf sign languages to the Ethnologue editor. See “Corrections” below for submission instructions.

Language counts. The number of languages indigenous to that country is given along with a break down of the number of living languages, the number that have become extinct since 1950 when the Ethnologue began tracking the living languages of the world, and the number that are used only as a second language.

Layout of language entries

Many languages are spoken in more than one country, and so are listed under several countries. (In fact this results in 9,021 entries for the 7,299 languages listed in this edition.) One of the countries is considered primary; usually the country of origin or country where most of the speakers are located. More information about a language is given in the entry for the primary country than in the others. An entry for a nonprimary country ends with the words “See more information under…” giving a cross-reference to the primary country. A complete entry for the primary country has the following form and content:

Primary language name (Alternate names) [Language identification code] Country speaker population. Monolingual population. Population remarks. Population in all countries. Ethnic population. Location. Class: Linguistic affiliation. Dialects: Dialect names. Intelligibility and dialect relations. Lexical similarity. Lg Use: Language function. Viability remarks. Domains. Age. Language attitudes. Bilingual proficiency levels. Bilingualism remarks. Lg Dev: Literacy rates. Literacy remarks. Use in elementary or secondary schools. Writing scripts. Publications and use in media. Other: General remarks. Linguistic typology. Geological and ecological information. Religion. Status.

Within the language entry, italicized labels are used to organize the entry into topical sections. A label appears in a given entry only if the entry contains one or more of the pieces of information associated with that topic. Five such labels are used:

Full information is not available for every language.

Primary language name. Each entry begins with the name used to reference that language in that country. In most cases the name is the one that the speakers prefer if such a preference is known. However, speakers within a language community may have different opinions about which name they prefer. Known preferred names are recorded using English spellings, though diacritical marks may be included. Among Khoisan languages and a few other languages in southern Africa special symbols—as submitted by sources—are used to represent the “click” sounds produced with ingressive mouth air.

Alternate names. Many languages are known by more than one name. In this edition, the 9,021 entries list 24,989 alternate names to assist the reader in identifying a language. These are given in parentheses after the main name, separated from each other by commas. Alternate names come from various sources: speakers may have more than one name for their language, or neighboring groups may use different names. Other names may have been assigned by outsiders and used in linguistic publications before the primary name was known. Another source of alternate names is variant spellings of what is essentially the same name. In many cases, languages of wider communication or regional language spellings are given. Some of the names listed may be ethnic names. An ethnic group, however, may be made up of several groups speaking several languages, or the mother-tongue speakers of a single language may be members of several different ethnic groups.

Some names in use by others are offensive to the speakers of the language; those are identified by double quotation marks.

Language identification code. Each distinct language in the world is assigned a unique three-letter code. This code is given in square brackets following the alternate names. When a given language is spoken in multiple countries, all of the entries for that language specify the same three-letter code. The code distinguishes the language from other languages with the same or similar names and identifies those cases in which the name differs across country borders. These codes ensure that each language is counted only once in world or area statistics. As explained above in “History of the Ethnologue,” the codes are from the Draft International Standard version of ISO 639-3.

Country speaker population. The first population figure given refers to the estimated number of first-language speakers in the country in focus. The date and source of the population estimate are given in parentheses. Some totals given do not equal the sum of the populations given for that language in each country because of differences among sources and differences in dates when the estimates were made. The Ethnologue research does not extrapolate population estimates by some formula, because populations do not increase at the same rate in all language groups, and because some starting estimates themselves turn out later to have been incorrect. However, some population data submitted to the Ethnologue may be the result of extrapolation.

It is often difficult to get an accurate figure for the speakers of a language. All figures are only estimates—even census figures. Some sources do not include all dialects in their figures. Some sources count members of ethnic groups, whose membership does not always correspond on a one-to-one basis with speakers of languages. Some sources do not make clear whether they refer to the total number of speakers in all countries, or only to those in one of the countries. Some do not distinguish first-language speakers from second-language speakers. The Ethnologue provides the number of first-language speakers wherever possible.

Languages that no longer have first-language speakers are described as “Extinct” in place of a population. Effort has been made to indicate the language that is now spoken by the ethnic group. The increase in the number of extinct languages from the last edition does not indicate the number of languages that have become extinct during that period, but rather reflects better information concerning some that may have been extinct at some time previous to that publication. As discussed in the “Endangered languages” section above, it is difficult to determine just when a language becomes extinct.

Some linguists would not consider a language extinct if there are revitalization efforts and the language is being used as a second language even though there are no longer first-language speakers. The Ethnologue lists revitalization efforts when they are known. In some cases the “extinct” language may still be used for ritual or other cultural purposes, but only as a second language.

Monolingual population. The number of those who are monolingual can be compared with the total speaker population in estimating the viability of the language.

Population remarks. Additional information concerning populations may include population breakdowns by dialect, gender, or ethnic groups; the population of the deaf community; or other comments related to population.

Population in all countries. Since information may come from multiple sources, the sum of the country populations may not equal the figure given for all countries. In some cases, the population of one or more countries may not be available.

Ethnic population. Where it is known, the population of those who identify themselves as part of the ethnic group is given, regardless of whether they speak the language.

Location. A description of the location where the language is spoken is included in each entry where a specific area can be defined. Those languages that are scattered through a country or wide region may not have this information in the entry. A list of all countries where the language is spoken is provided in the primary entry for a language spoken in multiple countries.

Linguistic affiliation. All languages are slowly changing, and linguistically related varieties may be diverging or merging. Most languages are related to some other languages: to some more closely and to others more distantly. Linguists have used terms such as phylum, stock, family, branch, group, language, and dialect to refer to these relationships in increasing order of closeness.

The organization of linguistic relationships outlined in the Oxford University Press International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, 2003, Frawley, ed., is followed for most language families, because it is the most comprehensive and up-to-date guide available. For Austronesian languages, the Comparative Austronesian Dictionary, 1995, Darrell Tryon, ed., is generally followed. Several changes have been entered based on more recent comparative studies. In the Ethnologue, more inclusive group names are given first, followed by the names for less inclusive subgroups, separated by commas. The traditional numbering system used to identify different subgroups of Bantu languages in Africa has been followed. The full classification tree is available in a dynamic presentation on the Ethnologue website A listing of the highest-level language families (including number of living languages, average populations, and countries where spoken) is given in the “Statistical Summaries” section.

Dialect names. Speech varieties, which are functionally intelligible to each other’s speakers because of linguistic similarity, are considered dialects of one language and listed under that language. In this edition, 10,803 dialects are listed. In addition, 6,269 alternate names for individual dialects are listed in parentheses following the primary name for the dialect. When one of these names is known to be offensive to its speakers, it is placed in double quotes. Where no dialects are listed or where the language name occurs in the dialect list, the language is known by the name of one of its dialects. Since information is not always complete, some dialect names may be ethnic group or clan names and may not reflect linguistic variation.

Intelligibility and dialect relations. Speaker intelligibility of other languages is given by a percentage indicating the level of comprehension. Values of less than 85% signal likely difficulty in comprehension of the indicated language. In some areas a number of languages show a high degree of similarity and form a linguistic group of languages and are referred to in the remarks as “clusters.” They fall into the same classificatory subgroup. Alternatively, some languages may be identifiable as a distinct group for sociolinguistic reasons. In many cases both linguistic and sociolinguistic factors allow for such a grouping to be identified. Many researchers take such clusters into account when considering language development strategies.

Lexical similarity. The percentage of similarity is determined by comparing a standardized set of wordlists and counting those forms that show similarity in both form and meaning. Percentages higher than 85% usually indicate a speech variant that is likely a dialect of the language being compared.

Language function. If a language serves as a national or official language, it is indicated. A national language is one spoken by a large portion of the population of a nation. An official language is one that has been designated as such by an official body.

Viability remarks. A number of viability indicators are given. Where the language is being passed on to children as their first language, the term “vigorous” is used. Another positive indicator is the number of second-language speakers (that is, speakers of other languages who use the language as a second language). An indicator of waning viability is the degree of language shift to another language (in some cases indicated by the percentage of the ethnic community who still speak the language). General estimates of viability may be given.

Domains. When more than one language is used in a community, speakers often establish patterns of language use for specific configurations of speakers, topics, and locations. These domains of language use can be described by answering the question, “Who is speaking to whom, about what, and where?” The Ethnologue does not have sufficient data about each language to permit a full description of the domains of use in this technical sense, but uses the term to refer most often to a general set of locations (e.g., home, school, community) and thus only indirectly to the topics and speakers most generally associated with those locations. The knowledge of “domains of use” patterns is important to those doing language development.

Age. As language use in a community shifts from a traditional language to one of wider communication, age differences in use appear. As language shift takes place, older adults tend to be the final speakers of the traditional language. Where there is information about the ages of the speakers, the Ethnologue reports it.

Language attitudes. How people think about their own language is important to those promoting literacy or other development activities. Data about speakers’ attitudes and the attitudes of others toward the language are reported where available.

Bilingual proficiency levels. As is common in many areas of research, there are different opinions as to how to measure bilingual proficiencies. For some language groups, estimates of proficiency in a second language are given according to Federal Interagency Language Roundtable (FILR) levels (formerly known as the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) scale). These estimates indicate the percentage of speakers for each level. These levels express increasing proficiency from 0 to 5 and are described by the FILR as: 0 No proficiency; 1 Elementary proficiency; 2 Limited working proficiency; 3 General professional proficiency; 4 Advanced professional proficiency; 5 Functionally native proficiency. Percentages have been determined by proficiency examinations of a statistical sample of speakers.

Bilingualism remarks. When speakers can use a second language, different speakers usually have varying degrees of bilingual proficiency in it, ranging from being able to use only greetings or trade in it to complete freedom to express anything in it. Language groups are sometimes reported to be bilingual if a few of the speakers can use a second language to some degree, or if there are no monolinguals; whereas other sources would not classify groups as bilingual unless a large majority of their members could use the second language very well. Because second languages are usually learned later than first languages, bilingualism is usually not uniform across a community, as mentioned above. Leaders, the educated, men, traders, those who travel, those in population centers, and people in certain age groups may be more bilingual than others. Where information is available, these factors about bilingualism are described.

Literacy rates. Where available, percentages of the speaker population who are literate are given for the first and second languages.

Literacy remarks. Information concerning motivation for literacy, government literacy programs, and comments on the writing system are given where available with additional information concerning literacy that does not appear in related categories.

Use in elementary or secondary schools. The language may be used either as a language of instruction or taught as a subject within one or more schools in the language area.

Writing scripts. Statistics on the number of languages that have written form are not available. However, the script used for written materials is given if known, e.g., Devanagari script.

Publications and use in media. Materials that have been produced in the language such as dictionaries, grammars, and broadcast media are indicated when known, but the information is very incomplete at this time. More information is welcomed though it is unlikely that the Ethnologue will ever be able to document existing literature in any comprehensive way. Significant publications of interest to linguists and language developers are reported whenever possible. The most widely published book in the world is the Bible with at least portions having been translated and published in 2,422 or 35% of living languages listed in the Ethnologue. This figure is based on the thorough archival efforts of the United Bible Societies and the American Bible Society. Information about Bible publication is given with the dates of the earliest and most recent published Bible, New Testament (NT), Old Testament (OT), or complete books (portions).

General remarks. These are general statements about the language or its context that do not fall into other specific categories.

Linguistic typology. For some languages, a little information is given on constituent order (e.g., Subject, Object, Verb = SOV), syllable patterns (e.g., Consonant, Vowel, Consonant = CVC), and other basic features that are of particular interest to linguists.

Geological and ecological information. For some languages, information on the geological and ecological environment, altitude range, and subsistence type of the speakers is given. This is not a complete typology, but a rough guide to the physical setting and general economic adaptation of the society.

Religion. The religious affiliation of the people is given where known.

Status. The phrase “Second language only” is used to indicate languages which are used as special second languages with no mother-tongue speakers such as languages of initiation, languages of herb doctors, cants, jargons, and American Plains Indian Sign Language. Such languages are listed in the body of the Ethnologue but not included among the statistical summaries of living languages. The inventory of these languages is also incomplete.

The phrase “Nearly extinct” is used to indicate those languages of fewer than 50 speakers and other languages for which the number of speakers is a very small fraction of the ethnic group.

Language maps

Maps showing the locations of language homelands are available for most countries of the world. Some maps make use of polygons to show the approximate boundaries of the language groups. No claim is made for precision in the placement of these boundaries, which in many instances overlap with those of other languages. Reference numbers are used on some maps where space does not allow the placement of language names. Finally, for some maps where the language boundaries are not known, the names or numbers alone appear. Extinct languages do not appear on the maps. Some languages are not shown due to lack of information.

Maps of countries in equatorial latitudes use a simple cylindrical projection. Generally, maps of higher latitude countries use either the Lambert conformal conic or the Robinson world projection.

Unless otherwise noted, the maps are the product of an ongoing cooperative effort between SIL International and Global Mapping International (GMI). Geographic data are from the Global Ministry Mapping System 2003. Language locations are based on the World Language Mapping System 2003. The maps were created using either Atlas GIS or ArcGIS software. The latter was kindly donated by Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI).

Permission to reproduce these maps in any print, electronic, or other medium must be obtained in writing from SIL International.


The compilation of a body of information such as that presented here requires a cooperative effort on the part of hundreds of contributors. Updates in this edition are largely the contribution of researchers, language field-workers, and native speakers of these languages who gave of their time and expertise to improve the accuracy and quality of the Ethnologue.

The Contributing Editor, Barbara F. Grimes, has given invaluable assistance. Colleagues in Academic Affairs of SIL International helped guide the publication through the printing process.

Other contributors include Roger Blench, Leoni Bouwer, Matthias Brenzinger, Bernard Comrie, Richard Cook, Jerry Edmondson, Bev Erasmus, Hezy Mutzafi, Nick Nicholas, Derek Nurse, Malcolm Ross, Valentin Vydrine, This edition has also benefited greatly from cooperative efforts with Dwayne Rainwater and colleagues in Pioneer Bible Translators, Jacques Rongier, Suwilai Premsrirat and staff at the Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand, colleagues in Lutheran Bible Translators, and many colleagues in SIL International.


Although this fifteenth edition contains more than 50,000 updates and corrections from the previous one, this edition makes no claims for completeness. There is still much to be learned concerning the languages of the world and the search for better knowledge goes on. A new edition is planned for publication approximately every four years.

If you believe any of the information in the Ethnologue to be in error, send your proposed change to the editor using one of the addresses given below. Be sure to report the source of your information. When you want to request that a language be added because you believe it to be missing altogether, please request a questionnaire from the Ethnologue Editor to submit a basic profile of the language.

The Ethnologue staff will seek to verify the proposed change before accepting it. This process may take months as it generally involves making enquiries of individuals who are resident in the country where the language is spoken. These persons may in turn make enquiries of others in order to perform the verification. The submitter can expect to receive an acknowledgement from the Ethnologue editor.

Submit corrections and additions by e-mail to: info at sil dot org

Or by post to:

Editor, Ethnologue
SIL International
7500 West Camp Wisdom Road
Dallas, Texas 75236, U.S.A.