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An International Symposium on the Historical Aspects of the Chinese Language Commemorating the Centennial Birthday of the Late Professor Li Fang-Kuei

Historical Aspects of the Chinese Language: An International Symposium Commemorating the Centennial Birthday of the Late Professor Li Fang-Kuei (1902-1987)” took place August 15-17, 2002 at the Faculty Center of the University of Washington, Seattle. The symposium lasted three full days and was organized into three fields—Sino-Tibetan and historical phonology, historical dialectology, and historical grammar—and eleven panels within those fields, not counting the opening session, which was devoted to a dedication to, and recollection of, Li Fang-Kuei as a great scholar-teacher. Peter Li of Rutgers University, son of the late Professor Li Fang-Kuei, gave a lively and fascinating speech on memories of his father, which delighted the audience. Ting Pang-Hsin recited a moving poem he had composed, dedicated to the memory of his great teacher, in the traditional chanting style of his native dialect, which struck the hearts of everyone. The poem was translated beautifully into English by Samuel Hung-nin Cheung (chair of the Division of Humanities, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and professor emeritus of UC Berkeley).

Two keynote addresses were delivered on the first day by two prominent senior scholars: Ting Pang-Hsin, professor and dean of the School of Humanities & Social Science of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Agassiz Professor emeritus of the University of California at Berkeley, on “The Relationship between Chinese and Tai”and Gong Hwang-Cherng, professor and research fellow at the Institute of Linguistics of the Academia Sinica, on “Professor Li Fang-Kuei’s Old Chinese Phonological System”.

There were two outstanding aspects of this symposium: an evaluation of the academic achievements of the late Professor Li Fang-Kuei in three major areas where he made significant contributions, and a focus on discussion. The former included papers by Ting-Pang-Hsin on the relationship between Chinese and Tai, W. South Coblin (University of Iowa) on Tibetan studies, and Gong Hwang-Cherng on Old Chinese phonology.
The eleven panels of the symposium embraced a wide range of topics within the three major fields of the historical aspects of the Chinese Language:

  1. Phonology: relationship between Chinese and Tai (Ting Pang-Hsin; Pan Wuyun,  Shanghai Normal University; Prapin Manomaivibool, Chulalongkorn University of Thailand), Tibetan (W. South Coblin), Old Chinese phonology (Wolfgang Behr, Ruhr-University Bochum of Germany; Sun Jingtao, University of California at Davis; Zev Handel, University of Washington), Middle Chinese phonology (Zhengzhang Shangfang, Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Shen Zhongwei, University of Massachusetts at Amherst), and Pre-Modern Chinese phonology (Furuya Akihiro, Waseda University);
  2. Dialectology:  Min dialects (Jerry Norman, University of Washington; Lien Chinfa, National Tsing Hua University of Taiwan), Northern Yue (Chang Song Hing, Chinese University of Hong Kong), Wu (You Rujie, Fudan University; Akitani Hiroyuki, Ehime University), Xiang (Wu Yunji, Melbourne University), Gan (Wan Bo, Hong Kong Polytechnic University), Hakka (Xiang Mengbing, Peking University), Southeastern Mandarin (William Baxter III, Michigan University), and cross-dialect historical study (Anne Yue, University of Washington).
  3. Grammar: Oracle Bone Inscription period (Ken-ichi Takashima, University of British Columbia; Shen Pei, Peking University), Archaic period (Mei Kuang, National Tsing Hua University), from Archaic to Modern (Zhang Min, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), Classical period (Christoph Harbsmeier, Oslo University), Medieval period (Jiang Lansheng, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Jiang Shaoyu,  Peking University), Pre-Modern period (Wei Pei-chuan, Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica), syntactic change (Benjamin T’sou, City University of Hong Kong), and linguistic theory (James Huang, Harvard University).

The symposium was supported by generous funding from various units of the University of Washington (Asian Languages and Literature Department, China Studies Program of the Jackson School of International Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, East Asia Center, Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities), and in particular the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.

A collection of selected papers, Essays in Chinese Historical Linguistics: Festschrift in Memory of Professor Fang-Kuei Li on His Centennial Birthday,《漢語史研究: 紀念李方桂先生百年冥誕論文集》was published as Language and Linguistics Monograph Series Number W-2 in 2005 by the Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan. For further information please visit the website at http://www.ling.sinica.edu.tw.