LINGUIST List 12.3

Fri Jan 5 2001

All: Obituary of Emeritus Kenneth Lee Pike

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <>


  1. Gary Simons, Obituary of Emeritus Kenneth Lee Pike

Message 1: Obituary of Emeritus Kenneth Lee Pike

Date: 5 Jan 2001 01:14:23 -0000
From: Gary Simons <>
Subject: Obituary of Emeritus Kenneth Lee Pike

	 SIL International President Emeritus Kenneth Lee 
	 Pike, 88, died of septicemia in Dallas, Texas, 
	 December 31, 2000. 
	 Born in Woodstock, Connecticut on June 9, 1912, Pike 
	 began his journey toward ministry when his father 
	 became very ill. He promised God that if his father 
	 recovered he would go into the ministry. His father 
	 got well and Pike began fulfilling his promise. 
	 He received a Bachelor's degree in theology from 
	 Gordon College of Theology and Missions in 1933. His 
	 life and ministry took a new turn when he attended 
	 Camp Wycliffe. There he listened to Cameron Townsend 
	 teach grammatical analysis, based on his experience 
	 with Cakchiquel, a language of Guatemala. Lectures 
	 on phonetics fascinated Pike and phonetics became 
	 the focus of his writings for the next decade. Pike 
	 went to Mexico and began studying the Mixtec 
	 language. Knowing no Spanish to use as a common 
	 second language, he began learning Mixtec 
	 monolingually. This holistic approach to language 
	 learning became Pike's trademark. 
	 In 1937 he began studying linguistics at the 
	 University of Michigan under Dr. Edward Sapir, 
	 receiving his Ph.D. in linguistics in 1942. Later he 
	 served for 30 years on the faculty. 
	 In 1938 Pike married Evelyn and together they lived 
	 and worked among the Mixtec people, analyzing the 
	 language, developing an alphabet and translating the 
	 New Testament, published in 1951. The Pikes saw how 
	 having an alphabet elevated the Mixtec's corporate 
	 self-esteem. The Mixtecs would often say, "Now we 
	 are people!" They previously had been told that they 
	 were not people because they had no alphabet. 
	 Dr. Pike had a long and fruitful career as a 
	 world-class linguist and Christian statesman. He 
	 wrote dozens of books and hundreds of articles on 
	 theoretical and applied linguistics. 
	 Dr. Pike lectured in 43 countries. He received many 
	 honorary degrees from universities around the world. 
	 He was president of the Linguistic Society of 
	 America, the Linguistic Association of Canada and 
	 the USA, and a member of the National Academy of 
	 Sciences of the United States of America. Dr. Pike 
	 was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and the 
	 Nobel Prize for Literature. 
	 He became president of SIL in 1942 and continued in 
	 that role until 1979. He divided his time between 
	 the University of Michigan and SIL, as Director of 
	 SIL at the University of Oklahoma and helped 
	 establish SIL schools around the world. 
	 Dr. Pike was an extraordinary man. He loved life. He 
	 challenged people to think. He wrote poetry. He 
	 laughed. He used his mind to solve linguistic 
	 puzzles and share the methods he discovered with 
	 others. He was a true scholar, philosopher, poet, 
	 pioneer and author. He was a man who shared his 
	 life, knowledge and love with countless people 
	 around the globe. 
	 Dr. Pike is survived by his wife Evelyn; three adult 
	 children, Judy Schram, Barbara Ibach and Stephen 
	 Pike; three grandchildren and two 
	 great-grandchildren; and one sister, Dr. Eunice V. 
	 In lieu of flowers, the family requests that 
	 memorial gifts be made to the Pike Scholarship Fund 
	 to provide scholarships/grants for academic research 
	 for SIL members. Checks should be payable to SIL, 
	 and sent to the Pike Scholarship Fund, Attention: 
	 Marshall Schultz, 7500 West Camp Wisdom Road, 
	 Dallas, TX 75236 USA. 
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