Professor Emeritus of Chinese
Moore 416B: 956-2663
BA 1933, Yale University
MA 1941, Columbia University
PhD 1948, Columbia University
Professor DeFrancis has specialized in Chinese language teaching and sociolinguistic aspects of Chinese, with particular emphasis on language policy and writing reform. He has also undertaken research on language policy in Vietnam and the classification of writing systems. He is the author of dozens of articles and books on spoken and written Chinese, among them a widely-used twelve-volume set of educational materials and the books The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy and Visible Speech: The Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems. His works on Asian sociolinguistics include Nationalism and Language Reform in China and Colonialism and Language Policy in Vietnam. A recent publication, In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan, is an account of his trip across northwest China and Mongolia, across the Gobi Desert and down the Yellow River in 1935. He is the editor of the ABC (Alphabetically Based Computerized) Chinese-English Dictionary, published by University of Hawai’i Press in 1996, and is currently working with the Center for Chinese Studies to more than double the size of this dictionary in a future edition.
This is his memorial website, created by his colleagues in the Center for Chinese Studies.
In 1998, Prof. Emeritus John DeFrancis was given the first Lifetime Achievement Award by the Chinese Language Teachers Association–U.S. He chose not to travel to receive the award in person, but recorded this video interview with Cynthia Ning, then the Program Chair of the Annual Conference of the Association. The video was played at the award ceremony.