About the Ethnologue


Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a comprehensive reference work cataloging all of the world’s known living languages. Since 1951, the Ethnologue has been an active research project involving hundreds of linguists and other researchers around the world. It is widely regarded to be the most comprehensive source of information of its kind.

The information in the Ethnologue will be valuable to anyone with an interest in cross-cultural communication, bilingualism, literacy rates, language planning and language policy, language development, language relationships, endangered languages, writing systems and to all with a general curiosity about languages.

Language descriptions in the Ethnologue

  • are organized by world area, UN region, and country

  • indicate region of use within countries

  • list alternate language and dialect names

  • specify the three-letter code from ISO 639-3

  • estimate speaker populations

  • give genetic classification of the language

  • describe language use and viability

  • identify writing scripts used

  • cite availability of literature and other products of language development

Other key features of the site:

  • statistical summaries by world area, language size, language status, language family, and country

  • extensive bibliography of references cited

  • over 200 color language maps

About the 17th Edition

New and improved features of the Sixteenth Edition:

  • Language descriptions updated and expanded by 10% over 2005 edition

  • 208 pages of updated and redesigned color language maps

  • Four additional countries represented in maps

  • Updated statistical summary tables

  • Updated to match 2008 release of ISO 639-3 language identifiers

  • Bibliography expanded by 20%


About SIL International

Ethnologue: Languages of the World is compiled and published by SIL International, a nonprofit organization committed to serving ethnolinguistic minority communities worldwide and building capacity for sustainable language-based development by means of research, translation, training and materials development. Since its beginning in 1934, SIL International’s linguistic investigation has exceeded 1850 languages spoken by over 1.2 billion people in more than 70 countries. Its more than 5,000 workers come from over 60 countries. As a nongovernmental organization, SIL has special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations and with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It has also been designated by the International Organization for Standardization as the Registration Authority for the ISO 639-3 standard, which provides over 7,500 three-letter codes to uniquely identify every known human language, past and present.

Visit our web site at: www.sil.org