For the Manobos of Mindanao whom legend credits with
illiteracy because a hungry ancestor ate their alphabet, and 35 other Filipino ethnic
minorities, the SUMMER INSTITUTE OF LINGUISTICS is unlocking doors to knowledge. To this
end, among each nonliterate people it now reaches in five Asian and 20 other countries on
five continents, the INSTITUTE places a pair of missionary-linguists. Members of an
international fraternity of 3,000 scholarly missionaries representing 18 nationalities,
they remain until concepts and customs are mastered and the language recorded.
The INSTITUTE pursues its mission of research and service to nonliterate minorities with
broad creativity. Employing the science of descriptive linguistics, primers are prepared
with glossaries in the tribal tongue, the main regional and national languages and
English. Apt pupils are trained as teachers and help conduct literacy classes for adults
and youth. Dictionaries, folk stories, songbooks, simple readers on arithmetic, hygiene
and Christian scriptures all become vehicles for new ideas that spur social and spiritual
change and national integration.
As in other countries, INSTITUTE personnel in the Philippinesnumbering
150cooperate with the departments of Education, Health and Defense, as did their
predecessors who first came to work here two decades ago. Filipino linguists and the
Institute of National Languages are principal beneficiaries of their research. At their
remote posts they regularly administer first aid and assist in epidemic outbreaks. Field
workers are sustained and tribal folk given emergency care by pilots, five aircraft and 30
stations of their unique Jungle Aviation and Radio Service.
The SUMMER INSTITUTE OF LINGUISTICS was established in 1934 to provide qualified personnel
for the growing ministry that William Cameron Townsend began in 1917 by translating the
Bible for the Cakchiquel Indians of Central America. A sister organization, the Wycliffe
Bible Translators, manages missionary activities. Special INSTITUTE linguistic courses are
given at universities in the United States, Australia, Great Britain and West Germany. A
jungle training camp in Mexico and a rugged arctic school in Canada ready volunteers for
Underwritten by no government or denomination, the INSTITUTE is supported voluntarily by
individuals, church groups and communities. Foundations and government agencies have given
grants for specific projects and lent their facilities. Nonsectarian believers in Christ,
members complete their linguistic work in five, ten or more years and go, leaving behind a
base for education. Respecting differences of language and culture, they provide avenues
for modernization that yet allow individual and communal stability in the transition from
isolation to full citizenship.
In electing the SUMMER INSTITUTE OF LINGUISTICS to receive the 1973 Ramon Magsaysay Award
for International Understanding, the Board of Trustees recognizes its inspired outreach to
nonliterate tribespeople, recording and teaching them to read their own languages and
enhancing their participation in the larger community of man.