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Kenneth L. Pike (1912–2000)

A Linguistic Pilgrimage*

Kenneth L. Pike


  1. Introduction
  2. Dreams toward a linguistic impact on the next generation
    1.1. A procedural leap in historical reconstruction
    1.2. Discourse variation as an experimental aid to analysis
    1.3. Mind plus matter matters
  3. Joy and stress as pushing my first linguistic decade, 1935–1945
    2.1. Starting new dreams—from sadness
    2.2. Writing—from a hospital bed
    2.3. Tone (after failure)—and a phonetics dissertation
    2.4. English pronunciation and intonation
    2.5. A two-page phonetic-phonemic procedural syllabus
    2.6. Plus, simultaneously, New Testament translation
  4. From then (1945) to now (1993): Travels, consulting, teaching, and a variety of other foci of interests
    3.1. Grammar and Anthropology
    3.2. Emics, linguistics, and anthropology
    3.3. Consulting
    3.4. People above logic
  5. References

0. Introduction

Instead of starting this autobiographical report with statements about the beginning of my life, I am starting with some suggestions as to what I hope may be the academic result, some years from now, of my most recent publications. Then I expect to go back to the beginning of my life, emphasizing the first linguistic decade, from 1935 to 1945. In a third section, I will then list some of the output from 1945 to 1993.

We need to try to understand what we are in relation to what has been—but we can do this only in relation to patterns within patterns within patterns. The following poem of mine tries to say that I am indebted to the past but wish to see it in relation to in the future.

Package the past.
Put it in patterns
Grown from the genes
Of 16 good or bad
Third-great Grandpas—
Not just the one
Whose name you cherish.

This sketch was written in 1993. And in that year, three of my publications had appeared. Each of them may have some relevance to the future—I could hope. Since then, two volumes reflecting my growing interests have been published: in relation to anthropology (1996, with Simons, McKinney & Burquest); in relation to my poetry (1997, ed. by Heimbach).


*Originally published in E.F.K. Koerner (ed.), First Person Singular III: Autobiographies by North American scholars in the language sciences. Reprinted with permission.