John DeFrancis

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John DeFrancis (born August 31, 1911 , † January 2, 2009 in Hawaiʻi ) was an American contemporary sinologist .


Most recently, he was Professor Emeritus of Chinese Language and Researcher at the University of Hawaii , United States . He is the author of a number of Chinese textbooks based on new (in the 1960s and 1970s) didactic concepts . His Readers and Supplementary Readers to the textbooks are particularly respected.

His most important works are his book The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy (1986), in which he reveals many misconceptions about the Chinese language and writing, even in linguistic circles, and his book Visible Speech (1989), in which he succeeds of the cuneiform writing expert Ignace J. Gelb ( A Study of Writing , German under the title: From the cuneiform to the alphabet: Basics of a writing science, Stg. 1958) and other famous predecessors discusses the most important writing systems, the relationships between language and writing, and at the same time clears up the usual misconceptions about language and writing, this time from the perspective of a sinologist.

He was the editor of the "ABC" series of Chinese-English dictionaries. Earlier in his career, he was co-editor of the Journal of the American Oriental Society (1950–1955) and also co-editor of the Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association (1966–1978).


Volumes by John DeFrancis in the Yale Language Series:

  • ABC Chinese-English Dictionary (1996)
  • Advanced Chinese
  • Advanced Chinese Reader
  • Annotated Quotations from Chairman Mao
  • Beginning Chinese
  • Beginning Chinese Reader (Parts I and II)
  • Character Text for Advanced Chinese
  • Character Text for Beginning Chinese
  • Character Text for Intermediate Chinese
  • Intermediate Chinese
  • Intermediate Chinese Reader (Parts I and II)

Books and Monographs:

  • Bibliography on Chinese Social History, by E-tu Zen and John DeFrancis (Far Eastern Publications, 1952)
  • Chinese Agent in Mongolia, translated from the Chinese of Ma Ho-t'ien (Johns Hopkins Press, 1949)
  • Chinese-English Glossary of the Mathematical Sciences (American Mathematical Society, 1964)
  • Chinese Social History, by E-tu Zen and John DeFrancis (American Council of Learned Societies, 1956)
  • Colonialism and Language Policy in Vietnam (Mouton, 1977)
  • Comprehensive ABC Chinese-English Dictionary (2003) (currently the most comprehensive and best Chinese-English dictionary)
  • In the Footsteps of Genghis Khan (University of Hawaii Press, 1993)
  • Nationalism and Language Reform in China (Princeton University Press, 1950)
also online
  • Report of the Second Round Table Meeting on Linguistics, Language Teaching Monograph Series on Languages ​​and Linguistics, No. 1 (Georgetown University press, 1951)
  • Talks on Chinese History (with Elizabeth Jen Young) (Far Eastern Publications, 1952)
  • The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy (University of Hawaii Press, 1984)
  • The Prospects for Chinese writing reform , Sino-Platonic papers # 171, June 2006 ( PDF )
  • Things Japanese in Hawaii (University Press of Hawaii, 1973)
  • Visible Speech: The Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems (University of Hawaii Press, 1989)


As editor of the Supplementary Readers for Intermediate Chinese Reader series ( Far Eastern Publications , Yale University , 1976):

Publications about John DeFrancis

  • Festschrift: Essays on Writing and Language in Honor of John DeFrancis on His Eightieth Birthday , Sino-Platonic Papers # 27, August 1991, edited by Victor H. Mair ( PDF )

Web links