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Academia Sinica E-news No.507
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In Memoriam: Academician Kun Chang
  Academician Kun Chang, an internationally renowned linguist and also Professor Emeritus of Chinese Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, died in the United States on April 3 at the age of 99.
  Academician Chang was an expert in the Miao-Yao language family, Sanskrit, Tibetan, as well as historical Chinese phonology and Chinese dialects, and he made a great contribution to linguistic research in these areas. The seminal paper he published in the year 1937, on the topic of the Miao-Yao language tones established the foundation of comparative phonetics research on the Miao-Yao languages.
  He was appointed an Assistant Research Fellow of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica in 1940 and in 1947 he went to the United States where he continued his research, focusing on Tibetan and Chinese phonology. Over his lifetime Academician Chang published at least seven books and more than one hundred papers. The book he co-authored with Betty J. Shefts Chang and published in 1972, entitled The Proto-Chinese Final System and the Ch’ieh Yun, is considered a highly valuable resource in the field of Chinese linguistics research. In addition, the series entitled Spoken Tibetan Texts, vol. 1-4, published from 1978 to 1981 has been one of the most important reference books for the Tibetan languages.
  Academician Kun Chang was born in 1917. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from Tsing Hwa University, Beijing, and his Master’s and Ph.D. from Yale University in 1949 and 1955, respectively. From 1951 to 1963, he taught in the Department of Far Eastern and Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Washington. In 1963, he transferred to UC Berkeley, where he became a professor in the Department of East Asian Languages until 1987. After his retirement, UC Berkeley honored him as a lifetime Emeritus Professor.
Academician Chang was a student of Academician Fang-Kuei Li, an internationally respected Chinese linguist known for his studies on the varieties of Chinese, and for his reconstructions of Old Chinese and Proto-Tai. About Kun Chang, his mentor Li was quoted as saying: “He is very, very conscientious, but he has his own point of view. He’s a very careful worker. He doesn’t do much vague theoretical work.”
  Academician Chang was appointed a lifetime Research Fellow of Academia Sinica and was elected an Academician in 1972.
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