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May 20, 2006
Chinese linguistics in the United States began with the work of Chao Yuen Ren and Li Fang-Kuei; Professor Chao taught at the University of California at Berkeley, Professor Li at the University of Washington in Seattle. Each of them established a magnificent tradition. Now that the Chao Yuen Ren Center for Chinese Linguistics has come to an end at Berkeley, that tradition has been interrupted. A group of scholars who are concerned about the legacy of these great scholars have established the Li Fang-Kuei Society for Chinese Linguistics as a permanent memorial to Professor Li's contributions to Chinese linguistics and in order to promote the development of Chinese linguistics.
The field of linguistics has given Professor Li the title of "father of non-Han linguistics in China" to match Professor Chao's title of "father of Chinese linguistics." Professor Li's contributions to linguistics are many-faceted: he was an authority on Athabascan languages and Sino-Tibetan linguistics and is one of the founders of modern linguistics in China, and, perhaps most importantly, he was the founder of comparative Tai linguistics. These various fields are all closely related to the study of the Chinese, Athabascan being no exception; therefore a "Society for the Study of Chinese Linguistics" is a most appropriate way to commemorate Professor Li.
The development of Chinese linguistics in the United States is closely
related to Chinese language teaching. Almost everyone who works in Chinese
linguistics also teaches Chinese; the study of Chinese phonology, grammar,
history of the language and philosophy is also linked to language teaching. A
student must first master Chinese before s/he can go on to the study of culture,
literature, history or philosophy. It is no exaggeration to say that
Chinese linguistics is inseparable from the development of American sinology. For
these reasons, we should all vigorously promote the study of Chinese linguistics.
In this sense, then, the establishment of the Li Fang-Kuei Society for
Chinese Linguistics is not only for the remembrance of Professor Li Fang-Kuei
but also for the furtherance of the field to which he dedicated his life.
Our most important task at present is fund raising. The Society depends entirely on the generosity of members and friends in order to fund its work. We hope that you will join us in this important endeavor.
Please send your donation to:
Li Fang-Kuei Society for Chinese Linguistics
PO Box 45823,
Seattle, WA 98145-0823
U. S. A.