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Review of Language and Life: Essays in Memory of Kenneth L. Pike
Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004 16:25:20 EDT From: Carolyn G. Harnett Subject: Language and Life: Essays in Memory of Kenneth L. Pike
EDITORS: Wise, Mary Ruth; Headland, Thomas N.; Brend, Ruth M. TITLE: Language and Life SUBTITLE: Essays in Memory of Kenneth L. Pike PUBLISHER: SIL International YEAR: 2003
Carolyn G. Harnett, Professor Emeritus, College of the Mainland, Texas City, Texas, and independent researcher.
Kenneth Pike (1912-2000) was a Christian, a scholar, and a poet. His work supported endangered languages before they were known as "endangered". Through Wycliffe Bible Translators and the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), he developed methods for translation into languages without an alphabet. For many years he spent summers with SIL, did field work with Mixtec in Mexico in the fall, and in the spring taught at the University of Michigan and worked with the English Language Institute developing materials and methods to teach English to non-native speakers. His basic Phonetics and Phonemics course included intonation for budding linguists, and his Linguistic Field Methods was application. He was fun-loving, friendly and encouraging to students, entertaining them at his home at the end of the semester. His clever little poems were surprises in his writings.
Pike viewed language with a trimodal perspective of interlocking hierarchies that involve an item or feature as particle in contrast with what is not, as wave of variations of manifestations, and as field for the distribution of where and when it occurs. After he united linguistics with anthropology in his magnum opus with a title befitting its length, Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behavior, his thinking continued to develop. He provided theory to improve the competence of writing by non-linguist first-year college students. When his children were grown, he collaborated with his beloved wife Evelyn on Grammatical Analysis and Text and Tagmeme, which presented a tetrahedron for slot, class, role, and their underlying cohesion. He impressed audiences with monolingual demonstrations, meeting onstage a speaker of a language unknown to him and learning that language. Haj Ross calls Pike's life "An Omnilingual Demonstration."
Kenneth Pike always expressed his appreciation for other scholars who helped develop his thinking. He especially appreciated the assistance of Ruth Brend. Until her health deteriorated before her death in 2002, she worked with the two other editors on this Festschrift as a surprise for the ninetieth birthday that he did not live to see. Here forty-six students, colleagues, and associates with various compatible theoretical orientations reflect on his life and his influence on live issues.
I: PIKE AND SIL In Chapter 1, Martha Hildebrandt presents "A Portrait of Kenneth L. Pike." His childhood in the large family of a country doctor motivated him, according to the biography by his sister Eunice. He spent a year in China studying Mandarin before he realized the importance of the untaught subject of linguistics, especially intonation.
Thomas Headland, one of Pike's students and one of the editors, elaborates on his life, his honors, and his international reputation: he lectured in 42 countries and studied over a hundred indigenous languages. Each decade he developed new emphases: 1940s -- phonetics and phonemics, tone and intonation; 1950s -- a holistic anthropological view linking language to culture; 1960s -- mathematics; 1970's -- grammatical analysis; 1980's -- philosophy. His most important theoretical contribution was tagmemics; his practical contribution was training students to work with endangered languages; his major anthropological contribution was distinguishing what he called an internal emic viewpoint that has meaning within its system, like phonemes, from a universal etic viewpoint that describes in detail with context or criteria external to the system, as in phonetics. His religious contribution demonstrated that his Christian faith and academic scholarship could be integrated as both missionary and linguist.
The last academic paper Pike wrote is Chapter 4, folksy reminiscences on early American Anthropological Linguistics, honoring those who influenced him. Cameron Townsend got him to work on translation in 1935 with the new Summer Institute of Linguistics, to write his still-used Phonetics textbook, and to attend the Linguistics Institute at the University of Michigan where he met Sapir, who became a personal role model. Bloomfield encouraged his work on intonation and made Pike wonder about bigotry and why so many great teachers were Jews - perhaps academic outlets were acceptable when politics and property ownership were not. Charles C. Fries mentored Pike's dissertation and teaching schedule at Michigan. J. R. Firth and especially his successor M. A. K. Halliday organized hierarchy, comparable to tagmemic structure. Zellig Harris correlated linguistic and non-linguistic behavior and structure as a network. Pike also recognizes Elbert McCreery, Eugene Nida, Leslie White, Adelaide Hahn, Morris Swadesh, Archibald Hill, Mary Haas, Floyd Lounsbury, Ward Goodenough, Charles Hockett, Dell Hymes, and Marvin Harris. He respected scholars with differing views, such as Block, Trager, Voegelin, Joos, and Chomsky. Pike applauds the return of linguistics to anthropology provided anthropology does not become "Postmodern." He cites Steven Weinberg's goal of a unified physics as similar to his Unified Theory of Human Behavior. He compares the relationship of old and new ideas to a helix when searching for pattern within pattern within pattern of knowledge. He welcomes both logic and the personal. His closing poem on time change at the international date line is a metaphor for passing the baton from his generation to another.
Daughter Barbara Pike Ibach contributes a photo tribute showing his family life, and a 24-page bibliography of Pike's writings includes many illuminating his faith.
Five volumes of his thousand poems were collected and published together, as Jana R. Harvey describes. College English published Pike's "Language - Where Science and Poetry Meet."
Linguistic science depends on objective observations. Gary Simons relates Bible translation to science in SIL and Pike's life. He describes the Open Language Archives Community, a website to catalog the world's languages in a standard format.
Joseph Grimes tells how Pike added the synchronic view to the familiar diachronic one, and how Pike's 1950 Axioms and Procedures helped him design software to organize, relate, and present linguistic data reliably.
II: LANGUAGE AND CULTURE In Chapter 9, Jane Hill recalls Pike's 1945-1947 writings on Mixtec tone puns and Mock Spanish that ridicules Spanish speakers and makes Mixtec speakers appear dignified and powerful. Now Anglo English speakers use a Mock Spanish to belittle, as in calling George W. Bush "el presidente."
George Huttar's "Scales of Basicness in Semantic Domains" examines terms in Suriname creoles from African, Dutch, English, and Portuguese sources. He compares basic terms with less basic ones related to close kinship, colors, generic plants and animals, visible body part, generic verbs, and locational adpositions. His data support hypotheses that "More basic lexemes tend to stabilize earlier in the formation of a creole than do less basic lexemes" and that Portuguese input preceded English input.
Stephen Wurm illustrates the increasing speed of changes in culture with examples from Papuan languages of New Guinea.
Dravidian linguist V. I. Subramoniam analyzes prehistoric words for metals in Indo-Aryan civilizations to deduce the origin of a non-Dravidian culture.
Eugene Nida points to unsystematic features in languages and cultures: while the meaning of words depends on their cultural context, cultural symbols as well as cultures change rapidly.
Carol McKinney and Norris McKinney show how Bajju proverbs reflect a Nigerian worldview. They explain forty-one proverbs. Categories show personal responsibility, ethnicity, causation negation, and personification of animals. Although several have biblical resemblances, their spiritual topics are rare.
III: ETICS AND EMICS Dell Hymes explains and illustrates emic organization of a Native American myth, "The Deserted Boy." After he divides this Oral Narrative into lines and stanzas indicated by intonation, he bases an alternative division on repetitions, such as subjects and parallels. Variations may reflect the fact that "Christianity reached these people before linguists and anthropologists."
University of Michigan philosopher George Mavrodes asks how we construe "Alien Gods," defined as those outside of our beliefs. A minimalist conception of a god as "a very powerful non-embodied rational agent" includes angels, demons, and many Old Testament gods beside the omnipotent Christian God. These definitions allow many degrees of atheism and polytheism. Mavrodes also discusses the extent to which Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Paul's Athenians all share the same God. He concludes that a lack of knowledge of the distinctions of alien gods makes a case for a limited agnosticism.
Lakoff and Johnson's metaphors are the basis for David Weber's attempt to discover what makes Parascientific Cause-Effect Relations reasonable in Huallaga Quechua. After exemplifying primary metaphors, he discusses duals, where something (such as trouble) is conceptualized as both a location and a possession. Quechua considers changes as movements, causation as forced movements, and purposes as desired locations. The concept of magnetism can explain Quechua beliefs which outsiders consider superstitions when physical proximity is said to influence their development. Increased organization fits Quechua's value of uniformity and fatalistic acceptance of forces beyond control. Metaphors rationalize fatalism by expressing parascientific cause-effect relations as future indicators and as actions or objects with negative or positive effects.
In Chapter 18, Karl Franklin clearly explains Pike's tagmemics, the framework of his analysis of the structure of Kewa numbers and names. In various dialects, number systems apply seventeen to forty-nine different body parts as numbers; other systems are based on four fingers with addition and multiplication, or on a decimal system including both hands and feet. Personal names have contrastive forms, variations, and social settings related to Kewa culture.
IV: THE OBSERVER'S PERSPECTIVE Just as extremely common verbs, such as English 'be' or French 'ir' vary their forms, so some Dravidian, Papuan, and Zapotecan languages vary the form of the verb meaning "give" according whether the recipient is first, second, or third person. Bernard Comrie relates such suppletion to deictic direction, politeness, or the physical shape of the patient.
Recalling Pike's difficulty during a monolingual demonstration in Freiburg in 1964, Herbert Pilch suggests that the problem could be initial mutations - lenis, nasal, spirant -- that are common in Celtic languages but rare elsewhere. They are subconscious, untaught illocutionary alternations.
Peter Fries uses the Systemic Functional approach to compare "The Presentation of Reality" in James' The Ambassadors and Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. Because Hemingway's easy style and focus on action contrast with James' difficult style and focus on how characters perceive a complex world, Fries examines mental processes -- perception, cognition, and reaction -- which Systemic Functional Linguistics distinguishes from other process types: material, verbal, relational, existential, and behavioral ones. Statistics indicate that James indeed has greater frequencies of mental processes, as well as modalities, hedges, and temporizing.
In Chapter 22 Eugene Casad finds great similarities between "Language in Relation to... and Cognitive Grammar." Both Pike and Langacker agree that language is a form of human behavior wherein linguistic units combine form with meaning, with lower order units functioning in slots of higher order units. What Pike calls emic and etic views, Langacker labels as actual and structural planes. They agree that speakers construe situations individually, which Langacker elaborates as including specificity, figure- background, scope, prominence, and perspective (including the speaker's vantage point, mental scanning, and objective-subjective focus). An illustration shows how the Cora language expresses "off yonder" and "slope."
V: FORM AND MEANING After studying under Pike in the early 1950's, anthropologist Robert Canfield spent ten years in Afghanistan. Social and political conditions there fostered public identity with a religion that provided a resource for coping with life by deferring to higher moral values. The range of motives from instrumental material ones to deferential moral ones relates to the emotional depth and the vocalic nature of the symbolic forms.
Mildred Larson considers "Translating Secondary Functions of Grammatical Structure." She begins exemplifying secondary meanings of English key, run, on, and my. English command-question-statement variations require a translator's interpretation, as do genre variations. Semantic-grammatical mismatches also require non-literal translation, as in quotations and in description carried by dialogue or procedures.
Vern Poythress evaluates "Gender and Generic Pronouns in English Bible Translation." Substitute forms omit nuances. Examples from Proverbs interchanging he and you lose either personal application or universal truth. Plural they obscures whether the action is communal or individual. Translators are not free to change the original thought pattern that male examples reflect.
VI: BEYOND THE SENTENCE Robert Longacre provides "A Textlinguistic Analysis of Psalm 19," which praises the written Word and shows the motivation for Pike's commitment to Bible translation. He diagrams the constituent structure, interweaving lyric and hortatory elements.
E. Austin Hale and Kedar Shrestha explore why some Newar existential sentence-ending expressions were indistinguishable until the total context was considered. Preliminary analysis of a complicated folk narrative seems to indicate that -gu alone elaborates and recapitulates, -gu du focuses on setting, and -gu with another unit identifies or asserts degree of truth.
Linda Jones' Chapter 28 examines an Indonesian language with nearly rigid SOV order in "Marked Transitivity in Yawa Discourse." Style and context motivate optional variations that highlight the object, contrast discourse participants, focus on body parts of a participant, or create mystery. A topicalizer may mark fronted objects, while reduced transitives have anaphoric meaning and quicken the pace of the text.
Ivan Lowe, Edwin Arthur, and Philip Saunders apply Pike's tagmemic postulates to gloss the low-tone suffix -a' in "Eventivity in Kouya." The form-meaning composite depends on context. When previous glosses proved inconsistent, eventivity was hypothesized as a punctilear, deictically anchored, agentive, realized one-time event. After considering omissions, imperfectives, negations, modal ka, and adverbial usage, it seemed to indicate contraexpectation, intentional and likely events. It foregrounds. Finally, the suffix can be glossed as marking prototype events and their participants on the main event line.
VII: PARTICLE, WAVE, AND FIELD In "Verb Serialization and Clause Union," T. Givon considers grammaticalization and iconicity in a wide variety of languages. He concludes that universalist configurations ignore some diachronic effects of typological diversity and syntactic universals.
Synchronic "unnaturalness" can persist for a long time. The syntactic consequences of grammaticalization differ vastly for serializing and embedding languages. Diachronically, nominalized complements and clause chaining may express a single event. Two verbs may be either embedded or serialized, depending on the specific language, before one becomes grammaticalized as a tense-aspect-modality morpheme. Serializing languages may use multiple verbs in a single-event clause. John Costello provides exceptionally clear explanations of tagmemic notation and the comparative method at the start of Chapter 31. He then explains adverbial structures in "The Evolution of Prepositions in Mayan and Indo-European: A Case of Reducing Ambiguity." Examples show that while four Mayan languages used ti + Noun for time, location, source, direction, instrument, agent, purpose, and respect, two IE languages used Noun + Affix for similar purposes. These tagmemes seem equivalent. Reanalysis or grammaticalization of the Mayan adverb phrase accounts for its metaphorical meanings. The final losses of ti in current Mayan and of IE case affix result in emergence of the same new part of speech and increased precision.
Thomas Gamkrelidze continues comparative language reconstruction as he defends his new paradigm of glottal theory. He reinterprets the classical three-series system of PIE consonantism of voiced, voiced aspirates, and voiceless into a series of glottalized and then voiced and voiceless aspirates. Examples from Punjabi and Caucasian languages make glottal theory seem plausible.
Barbara Hollenbach traces "The Historical Source of an Irregular Mixtec Tone-Sandhi Pattern." Pike had recognized but did not explain the irregular pattern that floats a high tone at the end of a word to the beginning of the next. It now surfaces only in restricted environments. Evidence of the same pattern in some Spanish loanwords indicates that a change probably occurred in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and evidence from various towns indicates geographical limits.
"Hierarchy and the Classification of French Verbs" are explained by Wolfgang Dressler and Marianne Kilani-Schoch. The hierarchy is modeled after Pike's framework. Classification is based on the author's own functionalist-mentalist model that considers semiotic and cognitive foundations and typological and language-specific system adequacy. After defining productivity and microclasses, Chapter 34 diagrams, describes, and exemplifies macroclasses and their subclasses.
VIII: LANGUAGE IN RELATION TO... Bruce Edwards emphasizes the value of tagmemics in "Pike's Tagmemics and Its Impact on Rhetoric and Composition Theory." He summarizes the disarray of college composition and rhetoric before 1970, when it was only grammatical style and organization, before Pike collaborated with Richard Young and Alton Becker in Rhetoric: Discovery and Change. More than a textbook, this exposed composition teachers to his thinking, such as the necessity for writers to be aware of the contrastive features, variations, and distribution of whatever they wish to explain. Viewing an event as a particle, wave, and field provides a systematic method of invention. The concept of the tagmeme situated in a context taught college students to approximate an insider's emic viewpoint to reach the projected audience.
Adam Makkai considers linguistics as a moral issue in "Language as 'Polluted Environment'." Examples illustrate how opinion-makers apply clever metaphors. Overly corrected non-sexist language and reversed markedness may not identify referents to his satisfaction.
Pike's interest in combining anthropology and Christian service motivated Patricia Townsend to apply the techniques of anthropology fieldwork to North American neighborhoods. She explores the role of religious organizations and individual concerned mothers in cleaning up problems in Superfund Sites, areas with serious environmental problems.
Because education policy should be based on objectively-measured outcomes, not ideology or cost, Stephen Walter makes a statistical comparison of large studies of six types of ESL instruction in grades one through six in the United States. They include traditional and transitional language- based and content-based approaches as well as one- and two-way developmental bilingual approaches. The best approach taught language minority children and native English children together in both languages. Since this was the smallest group, its results need cautious interpretation. The Prism model of researchers Thomas and Collier suggests that language, cognition, and academic skill are interdependent. Success correlates with use of cognitively complex on-grade-level academic instruction, current approaches, and a transformed sociocultural context. These findings have strong implications for the education of language minorities in developing countries.
CONCLUSIONS: This 646-page festschrift aspires not to teach Pike's teachings, but to celebrate them. Few if any readers will have previous knowledge of all the languages and topics that Pike worked with or that appear here. Some of these chapters (such as 18 and 31) introduce Pike's approaches to benefit readers who do not already know them. Others assume knowledge of Pike's work or of scholarly linguistic concepts and develop them further. All readers, however, can join the contributors in appreciating him. Editing errors are rare, but grammar is once spelled with an e (p. 318), and Longacre's important 1996 work, The Grammar of Discourse, is omitted from the bibliographic notes.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Carolyn G. Hartnett knew Ken Pike as his student at the University of Michigan and as retired colleagues in the Linguistic Association of the Southwest. She taught English at the College of the Mainland and now uses the Systemic Functional approach for independent research on style in science, journalism, and translation.