Language and Life Part I: A Stereoscopic Window on the World -- By: Kenneth L. Pike

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 114:454 (Apr 1957)
Article: Language and Life Part I: A Stereoscopic Window on the World
Author: Kenneth L. Pike


Language and Life
Part I:
A Stereoscopic Window on the World

Kenneth L. Pike

[Kenneth L. Pike is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and is closely associated with the Wycliffe Bible Translators and their Summer Institute of Linguistics as a board member, director, and linguistic trouble-shooter. His article, “A Stereoscopic Window on the World,” is the first in his W. H. Griffith Thomas Memorial Lectureship for 1956 on “Language and Life.”]

A Stereoscopic Window on the World

Many parts of the evangelical church during the past thirty years have been in danger of unwittingly rejecting a high-priority part of the will of God. Christ said: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matt 22:37–38). Yet many evangelicals have in effect acknowledged the rightful claim on them to love and serve God with their souls, while rejecting a command which in this instance Christ put on a par with it—that they should accompany fervent devotion with intellectual drive.

It is an encouraging sign of the maturing of evangelical Christianity today that the faculty of Dallas Theological Seminary has invited to speak to its student body one who is not a theologian but is rather a scholar in a field of linguistic study which might seem remote from that of the Seminary. I hope that this excursion into a distant field may let you see that some of the newer concepts of linguistics overlap on your interests, and may possibly illuminate some aspects of current struggle in fields of concern to you. On some level all knowledge becomes unified, and one who would live to the full in joy and faith must strive to see where all phases of his life and work are integrated in the knowledge of Him who is all in all.

This series of lectures is basically oriented toward the understanding of some principles of the nature of language. At first sight such a study, let alone emphasis upon it, might

seem unnecessary for the educated person who already speaks his own language fluently, and who might therefore be presumed to know the nature of language. Even more, it might seem unessential for those who have worked on Greek and Hebrew. On the practical front it comes as a jolt, however, to learn that those laboring to translate the Scriptures may find themselves working for ten or twenty years on some language of the Pacific in which there are no single words which can safely be treated as noun stems as against a separate set of verb stems—in fact with no close parallel to our parts of speech. O...

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