SIL Pacific


The Republic of Vanuatu, (Ripablik Blong Vanuatu), formerly New Hebrides, has a population of around 250,000. Of these, 94% are Melanesian. The national language is Bislama and the official languages are Bislama, English and French. The number of individual languages listed for Vanuatu is 110. Of those, 108 are living languages and 2 have no known speakers. Vanuatu has the distinction of having the highest number of languages per head of population of any country in the world.

SIL has been contributing to language development in Vanuatu since 1982. SIL operates under the sponsorship of the Vanuatu Christian Council and in partnership with Vanuatu Bible Translation (VBT) which was established in 1991). Assistance and training has been given to 18 language projects and includes the publication of health and cultural materials. Literacy and vernacular education is widespread and ongoing and the development of dictionaries and documentation of several languages are works in progress.

SIL is currently working directly in 12 languages with involvement in another 6. Activities include phonological and grammatical analysis, Bible translation, literacy and Scripture use, as well as on the job training in Bible translation, literacy and Scripture use as appropriate. Assistance is given to the Vanuatu Government via the Department of Education as requested in implementation of vernacular education.

In partnership with the national organisation, SIL also runs a 3-module course to train current and potential local Bible translators in critical thinking and Bible exegesis skills. The training includes training trainers for the course.

  • 2 PhD dissertations
  • Dictionary of 6 Tanna languages
  • Various reading/story books for literacy purposes 
  • Sunday School material (at the request of local communities)