Henry & Michiko Warkentyne Graduate Scholarship in Linguistics

Henry J. Warkentyne Scholarship in Applied Linguistics

Henry John Warkentyne was born in the small town of Langham, Saskatchewan on March 23, 1926.  the early death of his mother and the Great Depression contributed to a difficult childhood.  He never spoke of his experience, which surely must have made its mark upon him, forming a man who was, paradoxically, both shy and outgoing, a man with a fine sense of humour and irony but who often hid his true feelings, a man who was generous, loyal and self-effacing, almost to a fault.

As a young man, Henry was quite a wanderer.  Following stints as a school teacher in British Columbia and as a flight officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, he boarded a steamship for Japan to work as a lay missionary for the United Church of Canada.  Then, as today, perhaps the most likely job for a Canadian in Japan was to teach English and this activity, in one form or another, was to be his life long vocation.

Henry enjoyed teaching.  In Japan, after being the principle for the Canadian Academy in Kobe, he became a faculty member of Kansei Gakuin, a prestigious private university in the Osaka region where, amongst many other activities, he was invited to present English lessons on a local television station.

A good teacher must be creative and a bit of an actor.  Henry certain was both.  While at Kansei Gakuin, he wrote songs and participated in amateur theatre.  One of the highlights was his role as the adapter and director or an award-winning performance of Ionescu’s The Rhinoceros.

But Henry was also a scholar and perhaps it was his experience in teaching English in a foreign country that sparked his desire to study linguistics.  In 1957, he took a year’s leave to obtain a special diploma from the London School of Economics, taking the opportunity to travel extensively through India in the process.

Henry was a loving family man.  Resuming his post at Kansei Gakuin University, he became acquainted with a young Japanese woman, Michiko Sasaoka, who was to become his wife and lifelong partner.  They had two children, sons, Patrick and Kenneth.  Over the years, no matter how busy he was at the University, Henry always had time for his family whom he loved and cherished.

Henry was a dedicated worker.  After completing his Ph.D. at the University College of London, he was offered a position at the University of Victoria so, with his young family, he finally moved back to Canada.  During his tenure at UVic, Henry supervised many Masters and Ph.D. students, ran the department as chairman from 1977 to 1988, and continued his research in the field of phonetics.  One legacy of this work is the Speech Technology Research Centre, which he struggled very hard to establish and which was spun off as a private company in 1989.

Henry Warkentyne’s friends will remember a friendly, gentle individual with a sense of humour and an exuberance that was revealed only gradually.  His many acts of generosity included the creation of these scholarships for the University.

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