I would like to tell you about a man Joice and I first met in 1956 and 1957, when we attended summer sessions that SIL held at the University of Oklahoma. We began work in PNG in early 1958 and in 1962, Professor Pike came to Ukarumpa and held a semester-long workshop. We were again his students, but this time working on the East Kewa language. Pike conferred with SIL members who were working in 20 language groups and he trained several of us as junior consultants. I was assigned to work on Kewa syntax and Joice on Kewa tone and phonology. We would meet each week with Pike, who would review our analysis and make suggestions.
Pike often ate lunch with us, usually outside in the fresh air. He would tell us stories of fieldwork in Mexico and his teaching role at the University of Michigan. During the workshop Pike suggested that several of us do advanced studies and through his recommendation I began graduate studies at Cornell University in 1963. During the summer of 1964, Joice and I taught at the SIL summer course in Oklahoma and Pike asked us to initiate the first SIL in New Zealand. Although Joice had our second child the end of October 1965, by December we were in Auckland and both teaching linguistics. Joice carried our daughter from one classroom to the next in a large woven Buka basket. We often joked that it was how she got started in linguistics—she is now a Professor of Hispanic Linguistics at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
During our furlough in 1980-81, Pike invited Joice and me to give a lecture on Kewa tone at one of his classes at the University of Michigan. He and his wife Evelyn then entertained at his house. His example was giving us direction and challenges for what was ahead of us.
After we left PNG and headed up the Australian SIL for 3 years, we then moved to Dallas, Texas, where we taught at the SIL, then associated with the University of Texas, Arlington. SIL had ceased operations in Oklahoma and Pike was both a Professor at Arlington and a lecturer at the new year-round SIL school in Texas.
I was teaching grammar and was following the tagmemic model of Pike. My interest was also in the etic-emic dimensions of his model, so I asked if I could interview him. He agreed and I spent over 4 hours with him, subsequently publishing my results on the SIL website. At that time, the theory of tagmemics was in decline, and when I asked Pike what he thought his lasting contributions might be. “Probably not much,” he replied, “although the concept of etic vs. emic has become common.” This is true, although Pike is hardly ever acknowledged as the originator of the view, despite Headland’s arranging a debate by Pike about its application with a noted anthropologist, Marvin Harris.
During the years 1997-2002, I was the Vice President of Academics for SIL and Pike would often drop by my office to visit, usually to discuss something he was working on or to present me with materials.
Once SIL no longer had an affiliation with UTA, the Principal of the Dallas SIL school (Dr David Ross) and I proposed to the SIL Board a plan to start a new and independent school, which at the time we called the Graduate School of Applied Linguistics (GIAL, now the Dallas International University).
Pike was not enamored by the idea of a school separate from SIL, but he did not oppose it. If he had contested it, the Board would undoubtedly not have allowed the process to proceed. He was cautious in his relationship with GIAL, and not alive when it was fully accredited. There is no doubt, however, of his influence upon the development of many of the faculty at GIAL. The school eventually morphed into the Dallas International University, with Applied Linguistics as one component of its structure.
As an older member of SIL, I represent a set of linguists who knew Pike personally and were stimulated by his writing and example. He was able to form a bond between his academic structure and achievements with his personal devotion and calling as a Christian. Although his legacy lives on, it is unlikely that SIL will ever see someone of Pike’s caliber again.