John DeFrancis, born August 31, 1911, passed away January 2, 2009. He continued his dictionary and textbook work until the end of his long life. Those of us who had the honor and pleasure of working with him will do our best to follow in his footsteps. He was a great friend, leader, and inspiration. -Tom Bishop, Wenlin Institute
John DeFrancis, emeritus professor of Chinese at the University of Hawaii, began his career in Chinese immediately after graduating from Yale in 1933 by spending three years studying and traveling in China. Apart from academic study, his learning experience included grassroots contact with the language and people in the course of a 4,000-mile trip in Northwest China and Mongolia that involved trekking 1,000 miles across the Gobi Desert by camel and floating 1,200 miles down the Yellow River on an inflated sheepskin raft. He returned to the United States for graduate work leading to M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia and embarked on a teaching career at several institutions. He is the author of scores of articles and two dozen books, including the widely used 12-volume set of materials for teaching spoken and written Chinese and works on Asian sociolinguistics such as Nationalism and Language Reform in China and Colonialism and Language Policy in Viet Nam. [Source: back cover of The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy (University of Hawaii Press, 1986)]
DeFrancis was Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Oriental Society from 1950 to 1955, and of the Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association from 1966 to 1978.
DeFrancis also was Editor of Supplementary Readers for Intermediate Chinese Reader (Far Eastern Publications, Yale University, 1976):
Many books by DeFrancis are available from the on-line bookstore AMAZON.COM or from University of Hawaii Press.
Photos of John DeFrancis at wenlin.com
John DeFrancis Memorial at wordpress.com
John DeFrancis photos at flickr.com
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