The Barker Lectureship is named in honor of Dr. James L. Barker (1880–1958), an internationally renowned scholar in phonetics and former chairman of BYU’s Language Department (1907-1914).
Dr. Barker, who also taught at Weber Academy, the University of Utah, and the University of Chicago, studied at the University of Neuchâtel, the Collège de France and the Sorbonne and later lectured on dozens of American and European university campuses. He was honored for his work in phonetics by a decoration from the French government – the Palmes d’Officier de l’Académie. Dr. Barker served twice as mission president for the LDS Church – from 1942–1944, as President of the Argentina Mission, and from 1946–1949 as President of the French Mission.
In addition to authoring many scholarly articles and books, he translated The Book of Mormon into French in 1906 and wrote The Divine Church, a treatise on the Christian Church to the restoration. Dr. Barker spoke and taught German, French, Spanish, and Italian. In 1952 he returned to the BYU faculty and was teaching here at the time of his death, in 1958, in an automobile accident.