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Review of  Language and Life: Essays in Memory of Kenneth L. Pike

Reviewer: Carolyn G. Hartnett
Book Title: Language and Life: Essays in Memory of Kenneth L. Pike
Book Author: Mary Ruth Wise Thomas N. Headland Ruth M. Brend
Publisher: SIL International Publications
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
General Linguistics
Historical Linguistics
Linguistic Theories
Philosophy of Language
Anthropological Linguistics
Book Announcement: 15.2986

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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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

Format: Paperback
ISBN: 1556711409
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: xxvii, 646
Prices: U.S. $ $40.00