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Pike Center awards two small grants

Through its Small Grants Program, the Pike Center sponsors research and publication that address issues faced by language communities on the margins of society. We are pleased to announce that two grants have been awarded in the latest cycle of this program.

$2,500 has been awarded to Thomas Payne for a project entitled “Pagsantop han Winaray — Understanding Waray Grammar.” This project will allow Dr. Payne to travel to the Philippines to complete his collaboration with Dr. Voltaire Oyzon (a linguist who is also a speaker of Waray) in writing a textbook on Waray grammar. The textbook will be written in both English and Waray for use at teacher training institutions in the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines where Waray is used as a lingua franca. With over 3 million speakers, Waray is the sixth most widely spoken language in the Philippines. It is hoped that the resulting grammar will become a kind of template for similar textbooks to be produced in other Philippine languages for educators in other regions. Dr. Payne is a Senior Linguistics Consultant with SIL International; he holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of California at Los Angeles.

$2,400 has been awarded to June Dickie for work on “A Facebook community group for (Zulu) poets: a means to encourage interest in Psalms and their translation.” Zulu is one of twenty indigenous languages in South Africa. Zulu youth enjoy writing and performing their own poetry, but generally are not aware of biblical poetry or they find that it does not sound like Zulu oral art. This research will experiment with using social media as a platform for promoting interest in artistic renderings of biblical psalms and for inviting participation in the process of crafting them. Many poetic “translations” will be produced for each psalm that the group focuses on. These could contribute to the Bible translation project that is in progress, but more importantly, it is hoped that the cultural identity of youth will be strengthened, along with their interest in translation. The published research results will describe how the methodology can be replicated for other languages and genres. Dr. Dickie is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and a translation consultant for Wycliffe South Africa; she holds a PhD in Biblical Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Gary Simons
Introducing a new cohort of Pike Scholars
Top: Anderbeck, Beavon-Ham, Crosland, Dickie, Hanna. Bottom: Harley, Son, Troolin, Watters, Yoder.

Top: Anderbeck, Beavon-Ham, Crosland, Dickie, Hanna. Bottom: Harley, Son, Troolin, Watters, Yoder.

Pike Center is pleased to announce the launch of a new cohort of ten Pike Scholars in its Scholar Development program. The Pike Scholars program is aimed at those who are in a doctoral study program or who have recently completed one. Rising scholars work under the mentorship of an established scholar who is a Pike Center Fellow to grow in their vision for scholarship and in their practice of scholarship as they develop their publishing track record.

The new Pike Scholars (and their mentors) are:

  • Karl Anderbeck (working with Angela Kluge)

  • Virginia Beavon-Ham (working with Keith Snider)

  • Matt Crosland (working with Sherwood Lingenfelter)

  • June Dickie (working with Lynell Zogbo)

  • Rachel Hanna (working with Catherine Young)

  • Matthew Harley (working with Steve Nicolle)

  • Sangsok Son (working with Diane Dekker)

  • David Troolin (working with Dan Shaw)

  • Steve Watters (working with Gary Simons)

  • Brendon Yoder (working with René van den Berg)

See brief bios on the People page. Participants in the Pike Scholars program make a commitment to produce at least one publication per year over the course of the three-year program. Through the program they receive the funding support they need in order to present their work at conferences as a step in the publication process.

Gary Simons
Pike Scholar receives Firebird Foundation funding
Village leaders with research team (Yang, fourth from right)

Village leaders with research team (Yang, fourth from right)

Pike Center is pleased to report that Dr. Cathryn Yang, one of the participants in our Pike Scholars program, has been awarded $5,557 as a Fellowship for the Documentation of Oral Literature and Traditional Ecological Knowledge by the Firebird Foundation. As a step in the process of preparing her successful proposal, she received funding for a research planning project on “Documentation of Lolopo Yi Oral Literature” from the Pike Center’s Small Grants program (see announcement of award). That grant allowed her to do background research and planning with the Lolopo Yi community, along with Xiaobao Zhao and Xiufang Pu who will be co-investigators in the full project. Dr. Yang teaches linguistics as part of SIL Yunnan's partnership with the Institute for Sino-Tibetan Language Studies in Chenggong, China where Zhao is a student.

The Lolopo are a people of China who number about 380,000. While the language is still being transmitted to the younger generation, much of its oral literature is not. Added to this is the fact that currently very little documentation exists of this oral art. Unless efforts are taken to preserve it while the elders who know it are still living, Lolopo oral literature will soon be irrevocably lost to its speakers and to wider humanity, forever. In the project, many performances of Lolopo oral art will be recorded, annotated (via transcription, translation, and other commentary), archived, and shared with the Lolopo community and the world.

In communicating this news to Pike Center, Dr. Yang added these words of appreciation: “Many thanks to Pike Center for supporting our team during the application preparation process. I wouldn't have considered going for this grant if it wasn't for the inspiration of Ken Pike and the Pike Scholars program. Thanks so much for challenging my thinking about how my scholarship and efforts can be used to help communities thrive in their language use.”

Gary Simons
Small grant awarded

A grant of $2,275 has been awarded to Colleen Ahland for her research on “The Classification of the B’aga languages.” The B’aga languages are a group of four underdocumented languages in Ethiopia. Their classification has been debated, as has the classification of the five Koman languages of Ethiopia and Sudan. Dr. Ahland’s research is showing that the B’aga and Koman languages are related and form a subgroup within the broader Nilo-Saharan family. This grant will allow her to present her findings at the Nilo-Saharan Colloquium in Vienna (29 May to 1 June 2019) and to get them published in the proceedings.  Determining the classification of these languages not only contributes to a better understanding of the social history of these peoples, it can also contribute to the language development efforts in these languages since solutions found for one language are often applicable to other closely related languages. Colleen Ahland is a Linguistics Consultant for SIL in Ethiopia and also serves as Classifications Editor for the Ethnologue; she holds a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Oregon.


Gary Simons
Pike Center awards first grants

Through its Small Grants Program, the Pike Center sponsors research and publication that address issues faced by language communities on the margins of society. We are pleased to announce the results of the very first cycle of applications to this program. Funding has been awarded to the two proposals that emerged as the most highly rated in the peer review process.

$3,000 has been awarded to David Eberhard and Scott Smith for a project on “Documenting Case Studies in Community-Based Language and Identity Development.” A Guide for Planning the Future of Our Language describes a method for engaging with language communities to help them assess the vitality of their language and their felt needs for language development. (It is based on the Sustainable Use Model, which was developed by two Fellows of the Pike Center.)The method (with variations) has been applied in over a hundred situations around the world, but never have case studies been collected that document what has been happening. The grantees will conduct two symposia, one in Africa and one in Asia (with matching funds from the SIL offices that will host the two events), in which practitioners who have been applying the method will present and discuss their case studies, which will then be prepared for publication using Pike Center’s Agile Publishing platform. The resulting case studies should prove significant in informing future practitioners of the strengths and weaknesses of the method in various contexts and in guiding further development of the model. Eberhard is currently General Editor of Ethnologue and holds a PhD in Linguistics from Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam). Scott Smith serves with SIL as Regional Manager for Equatorial Guinea and holds a DEA in Applied Linguistics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

$1,500 has been awarded to Cathryn Yang for a research planning project on “Documentation of Lolopo Yi Oral Literature.” The Lolopo are a people of China who number about 380,000. While the language is still being transmitted to the younger generation, much of its oral literature is not. Added to this is the fact that currently very little documentation exists of this oral art. Unless efforts are taken to preserve it while the elders who know it are still living, Lolopo oral literature will soon be irrevocably lost to its speakers and to wider humanity, forever. In the proposed project, many performances of Lolopo oral art will be recorded, annotated (via transcription, translation, and other commentary), archived, and shared with the Lolopo community and the world. The grant from Pike Center will support the preliminary investigation that is needed in order to prepare a compelling grant proposal for a full-scale project to document Lolopo oral literature that will be submitted to a major foundation. Cathryn Yang currently teaches linguistics as part of SIL Yunnan's partnership with the Institute for Sino-Tibetan Language Studies in Chenggong, China; she holds a PhD in Linguistics from La Trobe University (Melbourne).

The Small Grants Program makes awards three times per year, with the submission deadline for grant applications being January 10, May 10, and September 10. Contact grants@pikecenter.org for more information.


Gary Simons
Small Grants Program launched

One purpose of the Pike Center for Integrative Scholarship is to serve language communities on the margins of society by doing research and publication that addresses issues they face. Pike Center is pleased to announce the launch of its Small Grants Program as one of the mechanisms for supporting that aim. This has been made possible by the receipt of a generous donation to the Pike Center's general fund.

The Issues page offers a broad description of the kinds of research that can contribute to the goal of language being an instrument of human flourishing. Any research leading to publication that falls within the scope of what is described on that page is within scope for the Pike Center Small Grants Program. Any member of an organization that is part of the worldwide movement of language development and Bible translation that our namesake, Kenneth L. Pike, helped to establish is eligible to submit a grant application. The program will make awards three times per year, with the submission deadline for  grant applications being January 10, May 10, and September 10. Contact grants@pikecenter.org for more information.

Gary Simons
Inaugural Pike Center symposium held in Malaysia
Dr. Sunny Hong presents her work on identity issues for refugees from minority language groups

Dr. Sunny Hong presents her work on identity issues for refugees from minority language groups

The first ever Pike Center symposium took place earlier this month in Penang, Malaysia. It was held May 10-15 as part of SIL International's 7th International Language Assessment Conference at which 125 participants gathered to consider the overall theme of “Understanding the Implications of Multilingualism.” Advances in technology and travel have brought speakers of local languages into contact with languages of wider communication to an extent unimagined in previous eras. The result is a constantly changing ecology of languages in which ethnolinguistic minorities manage and negotiate their identities and participation in broader society to a great degree through the languages they choose to use.

In the Pike Center symposium, eighteen scholars presented papers on the theme of Language and Identity in a Multilingual, Migrating World. Some of the contributions offered different models for understanding the dynamics of multiple languages, multiple identities, and the relationship between the two. Others looked at various social and geographic contexts of multilingualism, including urban, diaspora, refugee, and cross-border settings. Still others offered case studies of particular multilingual situations in South Asia, Central Asia, Central Europe, West Africa, Middle Africa, and Madagascar.

Click on the cover image to go to the proceedings

Click on the cover image to go to the proceedings

The preliminary proceedings of the symposium are being made available through the Pike Center’s Agile Publishing program. An initial release of the draft papers was made available to all the participants at the event. The current version of the proceedings adds an introduction by the symposium organizers and incorporates significant editing, but the editorial work continues as authors work to finalize their papers based on peer feedback from each other and from discussion groups at the event. The current version is about 75% complete, with two papers and a concluding chapter still to be added and final drafts from most authors still to be submitted. If you opt in to receiving notifications when you download the proceedings, the publishing system will notify you as updated versions of the proceedings are released.

Gary Simons
Article published about Ken Pike's legacy

An article about the legacy of Kenneth L. Pike was published online earlier today by Christianity Today:  “Kenneth Pike and the Making of Wycliffe Bible Translators and SIL International,” by Boone Aldridge (Corporate Historian, SIL International) and Gary Simons (Director, Pike Center). The article begins with the story of SIL’s founder, W. Cameron Townsend, and the birth of his vision for a worldwide Bible translation movement that would be empowered by scientific research. It then tells the story of Pike and how, after developing into a world-class linguist, he played a central role in bringing that vision to reality.

Gary Simons
Preliminary program for symposium on language and identity

Issues of language and identity can make or break any kind of development project. They determine the degree of access to new information and influence a community’s desire to make any kind of change in the first place. Issues like these are to be addressed in the first Pike Center symposium which will be on the theme of Language and Identity in a Multilingual, Migrating World. Organized by Fellows Steve Quakenbush and Gary Simons, the symposium will take place as part of SIL's 7th International Language Assessment Conference to be held 9–16 May 2018 in Penang, Malaysia.  

The response to the Call for Papers was strong with 33 extended abstracts being submitted.  Available funding allows us to pay the expenses for 12 authors to present their work at the symposium. The following are the submissions that were selected by the organizing committee:

  • Bagamba B. Araali, “Language shift and identity crisis among the northern Hema community of the Democratic Republic of Congo”
  • Leoni Bouwer, “Surviving a century of erosive language policies in Madagascar: The importance of ethnolinguistic identity for sustainable intervention and development.”
  • John Clifton, “Multilingualism with multiple identities”
  • Marlute van Dam, “A case study looking at how language choice and language attitudes are instrumental in the identity formation of the Roma in Sadova.”
  • David Eberhard, “Testing the Identity Construction Constraints: Towards an approach for assessing the factors that condition identity choices of minoritized language communities”
  • Jaap Feenstra, “Identity and melting pots: Negotiating identity by resisting or pursuing accommodation”
  • Maik Gibson, “New urban varieties in Africa and the identities that go with them”
  • Sunny Hong, “Hidden language, hidden identity: Identity issues of refugees who are from minority language groups”
  • M. Paul Lewis, “Remembering identity: The role of language”
  • Daniel Paul, “The notion of ‘heart language’ in relation to sustainable identity”
  • Sangsok Son, “Translanguaging as heartfelt linguistic performance in a multilingual world and its implications for education”
  • Stephen Watters, “Linguistic identity and dialect diversity: a conundrum with regard to Magar Kham”
Gary Simons
New book on SIL’s vision for scholarship
Click cover to go to ebook. 

Click cover to go to ebook. 

Pike Center is pleased to announce the availability of a new ebook that tells the story of scholarship as a key part of SIL’s vision and strategy. When SIL was established in 1934, our founder articulated a threefold purpose which wove together scholarly research, Bible translation, and integral development in service of language communities on the margins of society. In addition to discussing the role of scholarship in that founding purpose, the book relates the history of how Kenneth L. Pike came to be the key player in turning the founder’s vision into a reality. This book, edited by Pike Center director, Gary Simons, has its genesis in the efforts to found Pike Center and helps to explain why we have established it.

We feel very privileged that Mark Noll, one of the leading scholars of our time on the history of Christianity, agreed to write the Foreword for the book. In it he offers the following commendation:

The story of how SIL has sustained a commitment to its three founding goals deserves wide attention because of the encouragement it can provide others who believe that Christian faith requires intellectual and cultural, as well as religious, commitment. It also deserves attention because of contemporary currents in many spheres of life far beyond linguistics that still pose true faith and disciplined intellectual endeavor as incompatible.

Gary Simons
Pike Center symposium on language and identity

Issues of language and identity can make or break any kind of development project—in large part because they determine the degree of access to new information, ideas and behavior, but also because they influence a community’s willingness and desire to make any kind of change in the first place. Failure to take these concepts into account can result in irrelevant projects, unused products, programs without impact, and lost opportunities. But the relationship between language and identity is complex and varied—and even more so in a highly multilingual, massively migrating world.

These are the issues to be addressed in the first Pike Center symposium which will be on the theme of Language and Identity in a Multilingual, Migrating World. Organized by Fellows Steve Quakenbush and Gary Simons, the symposium will take place as part of SIL's 7th International Language Assessment Conference to be held 9–16 May 2018 in Penang, Malaysia.  A Call for Papers has been issued.

Gary Simons