The SUMMER INSTITUTE OF LINGUISTICS (SIL) comprises,
in its own words, "a small band of men and women who have taken on the gigantic task
of reaching the unreached tribes living in some forgotten comers all over the world,"
in recording their languages, translating into them the Bible and other "works of a
high moral worth," and then teaching these tribal peoples to read the materials
prepared for them.
SIL began by accident. In 1917 in the midst of World War I, William Cameron Townsend,
21 and a junior at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Califomia, overheard an old woman
charge that those going off to war were "cowards" because they left the
missionary work for women. He quit school and joined the Bible House of Los Angeles.
Earning his own passage money by loading fruit crates on the docks, he sailed to Guatemala
with a salary of $25 a month and a trunkload of Spanish-language Bibles.
He was a good salesman but he found his market limited: over three-fifths of the people
in Guatemala could neither understand nor read Spanish. The Cakchiquel Indians who made up
this group of illiterates were formerly a powerful and skillful tribe. They had been
reduced to servitude because they did not speak Spanish and were therefore shut off from
the mainstream of Guatemalan life.
Townsend determined to learn Cakchiquel and take "God's word" to them in
their own tongue. In 1919 he married a girl from Chicago whom he met in Guatemala, gave up
selling Bibles and went to live with the Indians, learning their dialect, giving them what
medical help he could and translating the New Testament into their language. He trained
native helpers but even so the work was exhausting, mentally and physically.
In 1931 he presented the first copy of his Cakchiquel New Testament to the Guatemalan
president, but his task was not completed. The Indians could not read; what good was a
translation if no one could read it? He dedicated himself now to teaching, but both his
and his wife's health deteriorated. The following year tuberculosis on his part and a
heart ailment on hers forced the Townsends to return to California.
Recuperating in his sister's home in Santa Ana (outside Los Angeles) he had time to
read and think. He discovered that nearly half the adults in the world were illiterate,
partly because the languages they spoke had never been written. Of some 3,000 known
languages, i.e., mutually unintelligible systems of speech, 2,000 were not recorded,
therefore there were no translations of the Bible in these languages. He determined to do
something about it.
About this time Leonard L. Legters, a missionary friend, called on him to urge him to
undertake for the Indians of Mexico what he had done for those of Guatemala. Townsend
agreed but suggested first a summer institute to train others in techniques which had been
developed by the newly recognized science of linguistics (the study of language as a
speech system). He realized the job was too great for him and his wife to tackle alone.
Two American universities had regular four-year programs in linguistics but Townsend,
knowing few people could afford to spend that much time in preparation, developed a crash
course for the three summer months when people would most likely be free to attend.
The first summer course, called the Summer Training Camp for Prospective Bible
Translators, was held June 7 to September 7, 1934 at Happy Valley Farm in Sulphur Springs,
Arkansas, where the Townsends were living because of Mrs. Townsend's health. Two students
signed up. The course was keyed for work with the Indians of Mexico. Materials covered
were Indian tribal history, customs, religion, taboos, and economic and cultural status;
Spanish; the techniques of linguistics and translation; and how to work and live with
After a second summer of training in 1935 the Townsends, their niece and three others
began work among the Tarascans, Mixtecs and Aztecs. Besides language research, these
pioneers took time to introduce new plants to their Indian hosts and improved agricultural
methods. An outgrowth of this work was a friendship that developed between Townsend and
the President of Mexico, Lazaro Cardenas, who came to see for himself what the
"Townsend group" was doing. He was sufficiently impressed to urge them to expand
their work into other countries. Their friendship led Townsend to write a biography, Lazaro
Cardenas, Mexican Democrat, which was published in 1952 and was instrumental in
opening the Philippines to SIL work that same year.
The term SUMMER INSTITUTE OF LINGUISTICS was used for the first time in 1936, but the
organization was not officially incorporated as such until 1942 when the University of
Oklahoma invited Townsend to bring his summer courses into the university curriculum.
Because of constitutional restrictions on religious teaching in a state institution, the
Townsend organization was divided into sister units, the SUMMER INSTITUTE OF LINGUISTICS
and the Wycliffe Bible Translators, to separate the academic aspects from the religious.
Both were incorporated at the same time in Santa Ana, California. The purpose of Wycliffe
(named for the first man to translate the Bible into English) is to recruit candidates for
SIL, transmit funds, and maintain relations with supporting churches and individuals. In
other words it assists and backstops SIL in its home country. Membership is in both
organizations but service is in one or the other.
The goal of both is translation and publication of the Bible at the very least
the New Testamentin all the spoken languages of the world. SIL emphasizes the
scholarly aspects of this jointly acknowledged project. It takes a scientific, academic,
government-related approach, rather than the religious, church-oriented approach of
Wycliffe. As SIL says, "While we are motivated by the desire to serve God and
humanity, we are at the same time scientists dedicated to the study of languages. And when
we complete our linguistic investigations, we shall go, leaving behind our base for
Both SIL and Wycliffe believe that literacy and the ability to read Christian
scriptures in their own language will raise the spiritual, moraland eventually
social and economiclives of the mainly tribal minority peoples with whom they work.
Justification for their belief can be found in such statements as made by a new literate
in the Philippines who said: "Before you came there was only darkness. Now there is
When the summer courses moved to the University of Oklahoma in 1942 there were 130
students in attendance. They came from 32 states and 12 foreign countries. SIL courses are
now held at three state universitiesOklahoma, Washington and North Dakotaand
at Gordon College in Massachusetts; in Brisbane, Australia; the University of Auckland,
New Zealand; and in Germany and Great Britain. They attract some 500 students from all
over the world.
Applicants for SIL training may be any ageTownsend himself is still active in his
70s. Volunteers over 60 and those who volunteer for specific professional or technical
work (e.g., pilots or teachers) are designated as Short-Term Assistants, although they may
extend their service indefinitely. All must accept the basic principles of Protestant
Christianity, be dedicated and of goodwill; they are usually required to have a college
degree. As Kenneth L. Pike, current President of SIL and outstanding professor and
consultant in the field of linguistics, has said, "The best are still none too good
when an entire culture may be at stake. But if priority must be assigned, understanding
concern outranks cold academic competence."
The summer training courses are taught by SIL professors under the auspices of the
universities. Wives take the same training as husbands because they serve as a team. If a
volunteer is accepted for training he must show that he has financial support for these
courses and for his succeeding years in the field. Support usually comes from church,
family or other private individuals. The volunteer himself must obtain it.
Three three-month training sessions are required. The first summer course is primarily
in linguistics, the modern science which has developed techniques of identifying speech
sounds and reducing them to alphabetical signs. For 11 weeks trainees spend one hour a day
listening to sounds collected from around the world, learning to recognize them, to repeat
them and find patterns in them. The next step is to assign the important sounds
(phonemics) to a phonetic (sound) alphabet, i.e., "the set of marks on paper which
tell which wiggles of the vocal apparatus are required to produce the sounds."
Students next listen to the dialect in which they hope to work, transcribe it into the
phonetic alphabet, and the phonetic alphabet into the alphabet of the national language of
the country. They then work out a system of spelling and determine the proper grammar
syntax system for phrase and sentence formation. The last step is translation of English
or national language materials into the dialect being studied. Accurate translation,
however, can come only from living among a people, learning their customs, thought modes,
religious ideas and taboos. The summer courses are but preparatory to the years that lie
The first summer session for a volunteer, then, is 11 weeks devoted to phonetics
(speech sounds), phonology (history and theory of sound changes in a language), phonemics
(the smallest unit of speech that distinguishes one utterance from another), morphology
(wordforming elements and processes), syntax (arrangement of words in phrases or
sentences), anthropology (man in his environmental and social-cultural relationships) and
literacy (reading and writing). For those accepted for further training, a second, more
intensive, summer session is required the following year.
In 1943 Peru requested that SIL work with the Indians in her jungles. In order to
prepare 25 volunteers for the rigorous life they would find there, SIL added a jungle
training course to the two summer courses. It (or arctic training) is now obligatory for
all. The first jungle course was established in Chiapas, Mexico, in 1944. All members of a
volunteer's familyincluding young childrenmust undergo this training in
survival under conditions of minimum comfort and maximum self-reliance.
The first six weeks are spent at the base camp on the edge of the jungle where
volunteers are taught the basics of primitive living: how to construct mud and wattle
homes, build and row a canoe, slaughter pigs and chickens for food, make mud ovens and
render first-aid. The latter is not only for their own protection but in order to help the
peoples among whom they will be living. They also learn to be alone in the jungle for
longer and longer periods of time and to hike greater and greater distances. They are
taught what berries are safe to eat, which vines hold water they can safely drink and how
to recognize and avoid deadly snakes.
The last six weeks are spent at an advance base deep within the forest. This period is
climaxed by a four-day survival hike of approximately twenty-five miles. The selection
process is such that by the time they reach jungle training only about one percent fail.
Today jungle camps are also operated in Ghana for those going to Africa, and in New Guinea
for those preparing for the South Pacific.
Volunteers are always sent out in pairs at least, a husband and wife or two single
women or men. When they arrive at the base headquarters of their selected country, they
can expect further specific orientation in tribal history, language and customs. For
example, in the Philippines they may take intensive conversation courses at the
Inter-Church Language School in Lipa City. Moreover, the first thing they do when they
settle in their area of work is hire a local person to help them learn the specific
dialect as quickly as possible.
In their village of work they are expected to make their own housing arrangements,
renting a house or arranging with villagers to help them build suitable shelter. They live
as the tribal people, drawing water from river or well and depending on kerosene or wood
for lighting and cooking. They can resign at any time, although few have done so. They
must, however, resign if they marry other than another SIL volunteer; the Institute feels
that dedication to the job must be complete.
SIL recognizes no liturgy or ritual and makes no attempt to proselytize, but work is
usually centered in an area where there are missionaries who will carry on Christian
teaching with the tools left behind by the SIL volunteers. Workers abide by the
"constitution" which governs each specific field branch. They are entitled to a
month's annual leave and a furlough at the end of four or five yearsone month for
each year of service.
As a backstop to the volunteers working in the field, is the Jungle Aviation and Radio
Service (JAARS). Established in 1948 to make it feasible to send families into the jungles
of Peru, the aviation service began with one U.S. Marine Corps surplus Grumman amphibious
plane. Today there are more than 30 planes in eight countries, including the Philippines,
and at least one helicopter. JAARS headquarters is near Charlotte, North Carolina, on 250
acres donated by local businessmen. Facilities there include a landing strip, hangars and
homes for technicians.
JAARS has to fly over exceedingly difficult, often uncharted terrain, land under
extremely adverse conditions, and fly in the frequently turbulent skies of the tropics.
The motto of the pilots is, "We do our bestand the Lord does the rest."
The wisdom of this attitude is proven by the fact that in its 22 years of service JAARS
has never had a fatal accident.
JAARS plane service is primarily to transport people to their base of operations and
out. It not only provides emergency service, but cuts routine trips to minutes instead of
hours, and hours instead of days. It also makes egress possible during the rainy season
when volunteers might otherwise be stranded in mountains and jungles for weeks.
JAARS offers emergency service to villagers as well as to volunteers. In 1965, for
example, JAARS flew 70 mercy flights in the Philippines alone, and cooperated with the
Philippine airforce in search flights for downed planes.
The radio service complements the aviation service and is used not only in ground to
air communication, but to keep in touch with volunteers in remote areas. A roll call of
volunteers begins each day, and doctors and linguistic consultants are on constant duty to
provide medical and professional advice.
When SIL signed a formal agreement with the government of Peru in 1945 it established
the pattern of SIL/government relations which have continued. Although usually preceded by
informal visits to the country of interest by SIL officers, access to a country is sought
through official government channels.
SIL work in Asia began in 1953. Dr. Richard S. Pittman had visited the Philippines in
1951 on his way back from conducting a three-month seminar in Brisbane, Australia. He was
interested in investigating the possibilities of linguistic research in the Philippines;
he also thought in terms of the Philippines as a "staging area" for other
countries of South and Southeast Asia. Pittman had with him sample word lists from 34 of
the unwritten Philippine languages taped by Gospel Recordings in 1949. He estimated that
there were 100 or so yet to be identified and noted that 60 distinct minority groups made
up 12 percent of the country's population.
Pittman called on Carlos P. Romulo, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and on Ramon
Magsaysay, Secretary of National Defense. Magsaysay, who was responsible for peace and
order in the country, understood the advantages of reaching the tribal peoples and
minorities outside the mainstream of Philippine life. When Pittman returned to the States
he sent Magsaysay a copy of Townsend's book on Cardenas. Magsaysay was impressed by the
similarity of the problems faced by Mexico in the 1930s and the Philippines in the 1950s,
and by the way in which Cardenas handled them. Pittman feels the book forged a link which
helped make possible the agreement between SIL and the administration of President Elpidio
Quirino which was signed on February 28, 1953. Pittman signed as Deputy General Director
for SIL and Cecilio Putong as Secretary of Education for the Philippines.
The next step for SIL was to acquire the approval of the governor of Bukidnon, the
province on the island of Mindanao where, at the request of the government, SIL planned to
begin work. With the governor's assent, that of the barrio (community) captain was
obtained. The president of Mindanao Agricultural College at Musuan, Bukidnon, offered
office space and housing to the fledgling project. From this base during the first year,
22 SIL volunteers studied eight tribal languages.
In 1954 Nasuli, 18 kilometers from Malaybalay, was leased for a conference and Workshop
site. This center developed into the permanent administrative, linguistic and
transportation headquarters for teams working in the south. It was also the main
headquarters until 1967.
Nasuli consists of 13 hectares of partly-leased and partly-owned land. Today it has a
workshop center, meeting hall, office building, three school buildings and lodging for
children of SIL volunteers (80 were attending school here in 1970 in grades one through
eight), a staff house, hangar and an airstrip. In 1959, a similar center was developed at
Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya, in northeastern Luzon.
For 16 years SIL's Manila office was in a Quonset hut on the grounds of the Institute
of National Languages of the University of the Philippines (UP). When for reasons of
"greater efficiency'' it became the main headquarters, it relocated in an office
building in Quezon City, the nominal capital of the Philippines and close to the main UP
campus. Headquarters staff today consists of a director, assistant director, accountant,
linguistic consultant and publications manager. Its two Filipino secretaries are its only
JAARS came to the Philippines September 5, 1958 when the then Director of SIL, Howard
McKaughan, and Juan C. Pajo, Executive Secretary of the Philippine government, signed an
agreement permitting SIL to maintain and operate an aviation service and radio network. In
November the first plane arrived, a gift of the people of Seattle, Washington, and was so
christened, "Any Diwa ng Seattle."
According to the agreement title belongs to the Philippine Air Force; it is assigned to
the 601st Liaison Squadron. It and its sister planesgifts of the people of Pontiac,
Michigan (1964), San Diego, California (1964), Jackson, Mississippi (1972) and Rockford,
Illinois (1973), are to be used and maintained by SIL as long as the Institute remains in
the country. SIL pilots must obtain Philippine licenses.
Four of the five planes are Helio-Couriers and the fifth is a Piper Super Cub. The
Helio-Courier is a single engine, five seat, all metal plane which is stall-proof and
spin-proof and when fully loaded can land and take off on a 200-meter runway at 30 miles
per hour. These factors are extremely important in the mountains and jungles where
airstrips must often be carved out of the forest or blasted off mountain tops by SIL
volunteers and hired village labor. Moreover with its low cruising speed, close turning
ability and an ingeniously designed winch, it can lift a man out of the jungle without
Although JAARS-Philippines does not operate where commercial routes exist, it regularly
uses some 65 airstripsgovernment, private and SIL-operated. In 1973 JAARS planes
flew a total of 1,700 hours and transported 216 tons of cargo and 6,925 passengers,
including Philippine government personnel needing to reach remote villages.
The radio service is under the supervision of the Philippine Army Signal Corps. As with
the air service, "equipment is acquired by the SIL, donated to the Philippine
government and operated and maintained by SIL." Thirty-nine stations are presently in
operation, from Mountain Province in the north to Sulu in the south, with three
communication centers: Manila, Bagabag, and Nasuli. Besides the single sideband radio
receivers for volunteer usedevised by Lawrence Walrod, a "mechanical
genius"which can operate on car batteries, JAARS-Philippines has sophisticated
Lear equipment: a 14 VDC ADF unit, an ADF 12E and a VHP tower control communications
radio. Nine radio technologists and operators maintain and operate the equipment.
Ninety-five percent of the people of the Philippines speak dialects of the Western
Malayo-Polynesian language group. Eight are recognized by the government Bureau of Public
Schools as the basis for first and second year school instruction: Cebuano, Tagalog,
Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Bicol, Pampango, Pangasinan and Samar-Leyte, in order of usage. These
are related, but largely mutually unintelligible. Groups outside these mainstream dialects
have for the most part remained illiterate because it was not possible to become literate
in their own tongue. This is the language-cultural minority that SIL linguists seek out.
Daniel H. Weaver, Acting Director of SIL-Philippines at the present time, writes: "We
trade upon three facets in their mentality that are common to almost all primitives, their
pride in their own language, their eagerness to better themselves economically, their
A survey team first tests the range of the dialect and the linguist volunteer attempts
to settle in the center of the language area. He usually finds that it is not hard to be
accepted by the people with whom he liveshis very errors in speaking their language
often endear him to thembut it is hard to understand the deeper meanings of the
culture and to communicate in depth until he has mastered the language patternwhich
SIL finds the most important key to the study of alien conceptual systems.
His first step then is to listen to the language sounds and, if it has not been done,
write them in a phonetic alphabet and transpose them into the alphabet of the country. It
will take a research team anywhere from six months to two years to arrive at a practical
spelling. The time involved is dependent on everything from the health of the linguists
and structure of the dialect, to the amount of agricultural and medical aid the team feels
called upon to supply. By 1970, orthographies (standardized spellings) for all 42 dialects
studied had been drawn up. After considerable testing 23 had been approved by the
Philippine Department of Education for its own use, and the 19 others were in the last
stages of testing. Four dialects have been added since 1970 and eight more are scheduled
for research this year. This is possible because 16 new members joined SIL-Philippines in
1973. Dictionaries in Inibaloi and Tausug are underway; the former is nearly completed.
SIL began training Filipino linguists to assist in language analysis in the field as
early as 1955-56. The first linguistic workshop was conducted in 1962 by Pittman. In 1963
Pike conducted a three-month workshop for representatives of 30 Philippine and 2 Vietnam
language groups. For the past three years SIL has run its traditional first summer
training course in Bagabag for the benefit of interested Filipinos, hoping to get more of
them into the field and eventually work itself out of a job. To date, only four trainees
have joined the volunteers.
The next step is to translate into the newly devised spelling system primers,
government health and agricultural manuals, Bible stories, literary works "which have
proven invaluable to mankind," songs, folktales and even riddle books. The goal of
translating the New Testament into simple understandable words usually takes about 15
years. It is essential to train a fluent native helper for this work since the choice of
words and meanings must take into consideration tribal customs and taboos. To date
"primers, pedagogical materials and aids and supplementary reading materials have
been prepared in 35 languages spoken in Luzon and Mindanao," according to Weaver, and
many such materials are included in the list of approved supplementary reading in public
In 1968 SIL cooperated with the Adult and Community Education Division of the Bureau of
Public Schools to hold seminars to instruct teachers in local dialects. This has been
continued and is especially important because it is the policy of the Bureau to instruct
children for their first two years in their own tongue. In 1970, in cooperation with the
public school system of Sagada in Mountain Province, SIL conducted a Writers Workshop for
45 teachers to produce materials in the Kankanay language. Eight booklets were developed
which are now being used by the schools in adult education. Three Writers Workshops were
held in 1973; these involved over 70 people from 11 minority groups. Together they
produced nearly 60 booklets which provide a minority outlook, useful both for their own
peoples and for those who hope to understand them. Besides producing and printing these
booklets SIL has published over 20 other primers, health manuals and folktales during 1973
Attesting to SIL's value, a senior education official h.as said, "We cannot afford
to be away from the SIL. We cannot do the work alone. We use the materials that they
prepare. They're the ones who speak these languages."
The third step undertaken by volunteers is to teach the village people to read the
materials made available in their language. SIL believes that the greatest force for
change is education and that literacy will "unlock many of the forces" that hold
people back from full community participation and progress. Because literacy is achieved
in their own language it enables minorities to move with a sense of pride in their own
culture into the broader national culture. By 1970, the average increase in literacy in
the areas of research was 15 to 20 percent.
Work is first begun with senior adults. If the tribal elders learn to read, younger
adults and children can be convinced to follow suit. Literacy Instructors Institutes began
to be held in 1965 and are now being conducted in many areas. Men and women who are
thoroughly familiar with their own culture and who have a natural ability for leadership
are taught how to teach othersparticularly other adults to read. This grew out
of a successful pilot project for speakers of Ilianem Manobo.
A formal agreement of cooperation was signed in 1960 between SIL and the University of
the Philippines, the culmination, as SIL notes, "of a very pleasant relationship
which has existed since our entry into the Philippines." The agreement states that,
besides linguistic research; translation of health and agricultural handbooks, government
bulletins, and books of "high moral and patriotic value;" and promotion of
literacy, SIL will publish the results of its project studies and engage in collecting
ethnological and ethnobiological data. As a result SIL has donated to the UP Museum of
Anthropology artifacts from six minority cultures, and to the Institute of National
Languages a concordance written in Tagalog which lists the important and common words of
30 local languages.
SIL volunteers have published more than 150 technical articles on the Philippine
languages studied, many of these in Philippine journals of language teaching or
linguistics in order to make known as quickly as possible to "end users" what
SIL has learned. A three volume report, Discourse, Paragraph and Sentence Structure,
based on a workshop conducted by Dr. Robert E. Longacre, was printed and distributed in
From the beginning SIL linguists have been invited to teach or present special lectures
at the UP. In 1954, both Pittman and McKaughan were appointed lecturers in linguistics in
the Graduate School. In 1959 the Institute for Language Teaching in the College of
Education invited SIL members to teach during the summer and the 1960 agreement spelled
out specific courses of instruction. The Institute of National Languages has used the
results of SIL research to broaden the national language by incorporating within it words
SIL has found in common usage throughout the islands.
SIL also serves the Philippines as a consultant on minorities. Its director presently
is on the Board of Advisers of the Presidential Assistant on Minorities (PANAMIN),
secretary to the Council of Voluntary Agencies, and consultant on cultural minorities to
the Civic Action Office of the Department of National Defensean organ of the
military involved in community development projects. SIL's work has resulted in a better
understanding of the minority peoples of the archipelago and has helped create a deeper
SIL helped establish the Linguistic Society of the Philippines and participated in the
First National Conference on Volunteers and several UNESCO-sponsored conferences,
including: "Education of Cultural Minorities," conducted at the UP for
teacher-educators, "Continuing Education," and "Literacy Problems in the
In 1967 SIL-Philippines followed a practice proven in Latin America of setting up a
Council of Advisers composed of nine distinguished national leaders. It offers advice,
acts as a sounding board for public opinion and as a liaison between SIL and the
government and the local people. The advisers have no policy setting role but help
generate a broader understanding of SIL, both within their specific organizations and in
the community at large.
As Pittman foresaw, the Philippines has proved to be a "staging area" for SIL
activities in other parts of South and Southeast Asia. In 1957, just four years after work
began in the Philippines, an agreement was reached between SIL and the government of
Vietnam. By the end of 1970 some 55 volunteers were in that country working with 20
tribes. They have stayed on in spite of increasingly difficult wartime conditions,
including the Tet Offensive in 1968 which resulted in the destruction of their center at
Kontum. Not only have they remained, others have since joined them and the number of
tribal groups whose languages they are studying has increased to 30. In 1966 SIL work
began in both India and Nepal; by 1970 some 30 to 40 volunteers were working in each
country among tribes. Work also began in New Guinea in 1956, in Indonesia in 1971, and in
Cambodia in 1972.
Today language research is going on in 26 countries: 12 in the Americas, 6 in Southeast
Asia including Australia, 2 in South Asia and 6 in Africa. There are over 3,000 volunteers
world-wide from 21 different nations and one colony: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Columbia,
Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Guyana, Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Republic of South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and
the United States. By far the greatest number come from the U.S.
Volunteers provide their own financing which is usually routed through Wycliffe because
of its tax exempt status. They draw up their own budgets and have a major decision-role in
overall SIL expenditures. Ten percent of total donations are kept by SIL for use in equal
shares by the headquarters in Santa Ana and the field branch offices.
Members also have a major role in the administration of SIL. They have a right to be
heard at all times, whether in international conferences or to rebut charges made against
them. Leaders, who are chosen by the membership, hold office for a limited time and are
then usually "recycled" into the field.
Although each member is expected to assume maximum responsibility for his own work and
living situation, each is also disciplined by having others to report towhether it
is the Board of Directors which reports to the International Conference, or the volunteer
in the field who must submit his language analysis, spelling system or translation to his
peers or to a committee of experts.
SIL volunteers are financed by individuals and churches, but public and private
foundations and organizations have provided both in-kind and monetary aid for SIL
projects. The governments of the countries where volunteers work supply logistical
assistance, tax free status and public and academic support. CARE and UNICEF have supplied
food for distribution by SIL to malnourished women and children in tribal villages;
Operation Handclasp has provided books for schools and libraries. In 1967 the U.S.
National Science Foundation gave a continuing grant for the "Linguistic Information
Retrieval Project" undertaken by SIL and the University of Oklahoma; this has made
possible the use of an IBM 1410 computer to accelerate linguistic comparisons and
The U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) has made travel and workshop
grants available. For example, in both 1967 and 1968 HEW grants made possible the travel
of Longacre from Mexico and Pike from the U.S. to attend workshops at Nasuli.
The Asia Foundation has been particularly generous. It has paid the transportation
costs of donated books and it has provided funds directly or indirectly for publishing
primers and supplementary reading materials in the newly written languages. Equally
importantly, it has funded surveys of the area-spread of various languages. The Ford
Foundation has also contributed.
Government officials, scholars and educators in the 26 countries in which SIL has
worked have words of praise and gratitude for the contribution made by the Summer
Institute of Linguistics to their societies. President Ferdinand Marcos has credited
SIL-Philippines with having played a major role in the increase in literacy in that
countryfrom 49 percent in 1939 to 83.4 percent in 1973. In presenting SIL with a
Presidential Citation in April this year, Marcos also commended SIL for its
"humanitarian acts of mercy." Volunteers are invariably described as sincere,
dedicated, open, hard working and "very Christian and very self-giving." Perhaps
the-praise most appreciated is that expressed, among others, by Arnold Toynbee after he
visited a SIL camp in the jungles of South America. "It is not very common for the
strong to dedicate themselves to the service of the weak as you are doing," he wrote,
but "thanks to your work for the Indians, the terrific impact of modern civilization
upon their life is being eased, so that their encounter with the modern world may perhaps
have a happy ending . . . .
"Ethnic Groups and Media of Instruction," Higher Education and Development
in Southeast Asia. Paris: UNESCO. Vol. 3, pt. 2, 1967, p. 163-165.
First Decade, 1953-1963. Manila: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
"Gift from California: A Linguistics Plane," Manila Times. September
Hefley, J.C. Peril by Choice. Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1968.
Huxley, M. and C. Capa. Farewell to Eden. New York: Harper & Row, 1964.
Martin-Roquero, C. T. "The Culture of the Central Mindanao Manobos," Graduate
and Faculty Studies. Manila: Centro Escolar University. Vol. 19, 1968.
Maryott, Alice. "The Summer Institute of Linguistics, Philippine Branch," Philippine
Journal for Language Teaching. Manila Vol. 4, nos. 1-2, 1966.
Ng, Willie. "20 Year Work of Linguistics Body is Lauded," Manila Bulletin
December 19, 1973.
Roces, Alejandro R. "I Write as I Write," Manila Chronicle. March 14,
Summer Institute of Linguistics, Anniversary Publication, 1953-1973. Manila.
Summer Institute of Linguistics, Annual Report 1968; 1971-1972; 1973; 1974.
Torrevilla-Suarez, Domini. "Scholarly Missionaries," Philippine Panorama.
Manila. September 9, 1973.
Unitas. Manila: University of Sto. Tomas Press. Vol. 40, no. 1. March 1967.
Wallis, E. E. God Speaks Navajo. New York: Harper & Row, 1968.
Wallis, E.E. and M.A. Bennett. Two Thousand Tongues to Go. New York: Harper
& Row, 1964.
Who Brought the Word? Sta. Ana, California: Wycliffe Bible Translators, Inc. in
cooperation with Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1963.
Interviews with and letters from those knowledgeable about the work of the Summer
Institute of Linguistics.