Bill Baxter, Associate Professor of Linguistics and Asian Languages and Cultures, specializes in historical linguistics. His book, A Handbook of Old Chinese Phonology (Mouton DeGruyter, 1992), presents a reconstruction of the pronunciation of Old Chinese (the language of the earliest Chinese literary texts). Professor Baxter, along with Laurent Sagart (CNRS, Paris), is revising a book manuscript, Old Chinese: A new reconstruction (under review by Oxford University Press), the product of seven years of collaboration: a linguistic reconstruction of the Chinese language of about 1000 BCE, drawing upon previously underutilized evidence, including recent research in modern Chinese dialects, early Chinese loanwords in other languages, and documents recently recovered from archeological sites. His recent publications deal with the history of Chinese and its dialects, linguistic approaches to early Chinese literature, and the methodology of historical linguistics.
Professor Baxter’s current and recent teaching includes Deciphering Ancient Languages, Language in Science and Nature, Asian Travelers, Languages of Asia, Language and History, How Different is Chinese?, and Sinological Tools and Methods. He has advised several Ph.D. candidates, including Uffe Bergeton (Asian Languages and Cultures/ALC)), “Pre-Qin Conceptualizations of Culture and Identity in Pre-Qin Terms” (in progress), and Myeong-seok Kim (ALC), “An Inquiry into the Development of the Ethical Theory of Emotions in the Analects and the Mencius” (2008). He has also worked with students pursuing M.A. degrees, such as Caleb Ford (Center for Chinese Studies), “Repatriated Patriots: Huáqiáo [overseas Chinese] and the Construction of a New China” (in progress). He has also advised students in undergraduate theses, including Jackson Woods (ALC), “Foreign Views and Interpretations of the 1911 Chinese Revolution” (2008), and Jill Peck (Linguistics), “Reconstruction of Proto-Waxiang [a group of dialects in Húnán province]” (in progress).