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F. Some respondents urge more financial assistance to needy students. It is specifically suggested that promising young Mexicans be brought to the sessions in connection with the government's education project mentioned above (Cf).
G. A number want more publicity, both in the way of drawing additional students, and in the way of informing the general public of the activities of the Institute. In particular, earlier publication and much wider distribution of the announcement is desired.
H. Two respondents suggest that the younger members of the Institute should be encouraged to present papers.
I. There remain various suggestions made by one person each. Some of these would involve more or less thorough reorientation of the Institute (e.g. abolish all courses in favor of informal conferences between scholars; hold several institutes, each continuing throughout the year; develop the Institute into a school of languages definitely connected with some one university; establish correspondence courses; shorten the term to six weeks; establish an appointment bureau). Of more immediate interest are suggestions for: a course in general phonetics to be offered every year; exhibits of instruments, materials, manuscripts, etc.; more popular lectures; a definite attempt to improve the linguistic background of high school teachers.
Some of these suggestions, as well as some others not here cited, seem to be mere happy thoughts that would not be pressed even by their authors. Some of them deserve serious consideration, or have already been considered and temporarily rejected for lack of the necessary money.
The following letter arrived after the above report was completed. It is written by the head of the Department of Phonetics in the abovementioned "Summer Institute of Linguistics" (see Questions 4-6, H), who has attended the Linguistic Institute and who brought it to the attention of his own institution, the purpose of which is made clear by his letter. It may be added that many of the best scholars at the Linguistic Institute have formed a very high opinion of the writer's competence, especially as a phonetician.
We have reproduced the letter in full. It is evident that the work of this group will certainly go on. It is also evident that its guiding spirits want it to proceed on a scientific basis. To them, and to us, a third fact seems equally evident: that without the Linguistic Institute,
the chances of their being scientifically successful will be very seriously lessened.
We agree with them fully that scientific linguistic training for missionairies would be of inestimable value. Suppose Bishop Ulfilas had attended a Linguistic Institute!
Dear Professor Edgerton,
Your questionnaire from the Linguistic Society of America reached me in Arkansas about the first week of October, forwarded from Mexico. There I drafted an answer to the questions, but somehow did not get them copied until my typewriter caught up with me again in this Mixteco town. I shall be very sorry if this delay has in any way hindered your investigation.
1. I favor holding sessions of the Linguistic Institute after the session of 1940. 2. They should be held every summer, I believe, or, if that is impossible, every other year.
3. I hope they will continue to be held at Ann Arbor, so that any interested in pursuing an organized academic program for a degree under its auspices may do so uninterruptedly in cooperation with the University of Michigan. If there could be some certainty in this, I am sure that some of my colleagues would be interested. Professor Fries seems very much interested in such a program, and that would be another reason for continuing in Michigan.
4. A number of direct personal benefits have come to me from the Institute. a) I had given up entirely the idea of getting any higher education, since it seemed absolutely impossible to invest the years of required residence in a University. When Professor Fries arranged for me to get in residence requirements in the summer time, and do the research in connection with my winter employment, I was for the first time able to consider such a program. b) My research in the Mixteco language, undertaken in regular line of duty, struck serious snags in the way of tone. Professor Sapir gave me ideas during the session of 1937 which proved to be the key to the problem (and not of mine only, but also of various colleagues and pupils of mine working on tonal languages also, cf. 5). c) In my teaching of phonetics in Arkansas, a large part of my course, especially that on phonemics, has been gathered directly from instructors or their publications since secured, or from investigators visiting the sessions but not an official part of the staff. This has allowed my own teaching to be helped greatly.
5. The Linguistic Institute has definitely contributed to the advancement of knowledge. By helping in the training of our faculty (and we had planned to have all our future instructors get some training from you), and in the advanced courses given to our graduates who have completed our own short course, and have already started field investigations but need further training, it has been a great boon. At present our investigators who have received direct benefit through your courses, or indirect through our faculty, are in the following tribes in Mexico: Aztec, Mixteco, Maya, Tarasco, Mazateco, Chinanteco, Tlapaneco, Tsotsil, Tsental, Mazahua, Mixe, Zapoteco. Others are in Guatemala, South America, the Philippines, and Africa, and their numbers are increasing rapidly. In another way, knowledge is at the point of being advanced. For hundreds of years thousands of missionaries have had access to languages where no satisfactory linguistic analysis has been done. We are just starting a movement to
get mission boards interested in getting their members trained, even if only in a short course, linguistically. In doing this we are definitely indebted to the Institute of the Linguistic Society of America for our teacher training, and the prestige such training gives us in mission circles to urge such study. We hope to get a number of their young men to the Institute for more direct training, also. If a number of them could be trained to start, in turn, institutes in Africa, or South West China (I was recently urging upon the translators of the Lisu New Testament such a course), a tremendous body of texts, legends, myths, and grammatical reports should be made available. Of course these could by no means be expected to equal the calibre of those produced by men with full university linguistic courses, but in view of the dearth at present, a large body of phonemically written material would be a great advance even if the grammatical analysis might lack the finesse of better trained men, and to offset the short training, each of these men study the language from five to forty years.
6. There is still a tremendous body of tribes and peoples the world over who are illiterate. Educational movements for these tribes have as prerequisite, the formation of alphabets and linguistic analysis of the languages concerned. Each of the investigators mentioned above is interested in scientific investigation from the viewpoint of pure science, it is true, but there is also a social, utilitarian aspect to the work which actually has sent them to the investigation. They are interested in Bible translation, the providing of a native literature to each of the hundreds of tribes with no chance at literacy because of lack of reading materials. History shows quite amply that this motive has in the past initiated a large percentage of all world literacy. If a movement unbacked by linguistic training has produced such a vast amount of evidence of success in literacy, it would seem no idle claim that the same motive under which we labor should bring forth ample dividends when aided by linguistic method such as you help us to attain. Already this has begun to find fruit in actual education movements, the formation of primers. At present the biggest such has begun in cooperation with the government of Mexico for the fifty-some tribes there. We hope that this will spread to the rest of Latin America, Africa, and other tribal regions, for a thousand and more tribes yet without one single word printed for them to read. The success of this movement depends to a considerable extent upon the continued training of the Linguistic Institute which you represent. Already through its phonemic instruction seen in the courses given on descriptive linguistics, it has had a large part.
7. For improvement, we suggest little, unless it be a new course on linguistic aspects of ethnology; methods of getting and classifying ethnographical data as grist for the linguistic mill. Our workers all have years of time and ample opportunity to secure much information, but lack of the knowledge of the technic of presenting and cataloging the same renders it valueless.
We hope that the courses on descriptive techniques will not be curtailed. That we would deprecate strongly. It is the latter which have in such a large measure proved of value to our work, and, hence, indirectly to the tribal world. Those who first learn to read from the Bible may well quote the following: "And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; For I have hoped in thine ordinances. So shall I observe thy law continually for ever and ever. And I shall walk at liberty." Psalms 119:43–5.