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Three-volume 17th edition
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Ethnologue: Languages of the World is a web-based publication that contains statistics for 7,457 languages in its 19th edition, which was released in 2016. Of these, 7,097 are listed as living and 360 are listed as extinct.Ethnologue provides information on the number of speakers, location, dialects, linguistic affiliations, availability of the Bible in each language and dialect described, and an estimate of language viability using the Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (EGIDS). The publication is well respected and widely used by linguists.
Ethnologue is published by SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics), a Christian linguistic service organization based in Dallas, Texas. The organization studies numerous minority languages in order to facilitate language development and work with the speakers of such language communities in translating portions of the Bible into their language.
What counts as a language depends upon socio-linguistic evaluation; as the preface to Ethnologue says, "Not all scholars share the same set of criteria for what constitutes a 'language' and what features define a 'dialect'." Ethnologue follows general linguistic criteria, which are based primarily on mutual intelligibility. Shared language intelligibility features are complex, and usually include etymological and grammatical evidence that is agreed upon by experts.
In addition to choosing a primary name for a language, Ethnologue gives names that its speakers, governments, foreigners and neighbors use for it and its dialects, and also describes how the language and its dialects have been named and referenced historically, regardless of whether a name is considered official, politically correct or offensive. These lists of names are not necessarily complete.
In 1984, Ethnologue released a three-letter coding system, called an "SIL code", to identify each language that it described. This set of codes significantly exceeded the scope of other standards, e.g. ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2. The 14th edition, published in 2000, included 7,148 language codes. In 2002, Ethnologue was asked to work with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to integrate its codes into a draft international standard. The 15th edition of Ethnologue was the first edition to use this standard, called ISO 639-3. This standard is now administered separately from Ethnologue (though still by SIL) according to rules established by ISO, and since then Ethnologue relies on the standard to determine what is listed as a language.
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