Preface to Inaugural Volume
August. 2002. His portrait appeared on the screen. The meandering chanting of a poem in the Rúgāo 如皐 dialect filled the air.
It tugged at the heart. A classroom in Thompson Hall with lofty pines soaring by the window…a nook on the fragrant isle with gentle sea breeze sweeping by…a hut on the treasure island with sprawling bamboos and kingly palms…Scene after scene floated in the minds of those in the audience.
A group of his students, members of his family, his close friends and admirers gathered after the International Symposium Commemorating the Centennial Birthday of Professor Li Fang-Kuei and decided to set up something permanent with which to remember this master scholar, who had carved monumental works in Chinese linguistics, Tai linguistics and American Indian linguistics. Within minutes, this group of people, some already with silvery streaks of hoary hair, promptly pledged donations totaling US$100,000 toward this goal.
Although these naive 書獃子-turned-organizers-overnight bumped into various unexpected obstacles on the way, their spirit was undaunted, their dream never shattered. Through the generous assistance of several attorneys at the Garvey, Schubert, Barer Law Firm in Seattle, a non-profit organization, the Li Fang-Kuei Society for Chinese Linguistics 紀念李方桂先生中國語言學研究學會, was established on October 1, 2003.
The goal of the Society is not only to honor this great scholar-linguist, who founded a distinguished tradition of research and teaching in Chinese linguistics in the United States and China, but also to serve as a venue for continuing this excellent tradition of his, supporting and encouraging the highest standards of research and scholarship in the academic discipline of Chinese linguistics in an international context. We are heartened by the enthusiastic support from four corners of the world and shall keep striving for progress in our mission. So far we have set up an annual Li Fang-Kuei Award in two categories to encourage young scholars in producing writings of high quality (Please see announcement in this issue).
Professor Li’s contribution to linguistics is global and many-faceted. His keen insight, great intellect, and profound knowledge as conveyed through his writings have influenced directly or indirectly subsequent generations of scholars. In appreciation of his contribution to the academic community worldwide, the Society has launched this Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics 中國語言學集刊 as a permanent tribute to him.
The Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics is a joint publication supported by the Li Fang-Kuei Society for Chinese Linguistics and the Center for Chinese Linguistics of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The journal publishes research in Chinese linguistics with a special focus on historical comparative study and dialectal research. Its areas of interest also include Sino-Tibetan and other languages related to Chinese.
What better token of reverence can we give to this great master than devoting ourselves to research in a manner worthy of continuing the great tradition, striving to shed new light, explore new horizons, as he had shown us through the milestones he erected?
May 20, 2006