William Baxter

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William Baxter

Professor

Linguistics, 407 Lorch Hall-1220

Office Location(s): 5163 STB
Phone: 734-763-3704
wbaxter@umich.edu

  • Affiliation(s)
    • Department of Linguistics
    • Department of Asian Languages and Cultures
    • Center for Chinese Studies
  • Fields of Study
    • Historical linguistics
    • History and methodology of historical linguistics
    • Mathematical methods
    • History of Chinese
    • Early Chinese language and culture
  • About

    Bill Baxter, 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). A revised and updated reconstruction is presented in Old Chinese: A new reconstruction (Oxford University Press, to appear in late 2013 or 2014), by Professor Baxter and Laurent Sagart (CNRS, Paris). This book is the product of eight 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," 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." He has also advised students in undergraduate theses, including Jackson Woods (ALC), "Foreign Views and Interpretations of the 1911 Chinese Revolution" (2008), Jill Peck (Linguistics) "Reconstruction of Proto-Waxiang [a group of dialects in Húnán province]" (2012), and Barbara Liu (Asian Languages and Cultures), "When the West met Shanghai" (2013).

  • Education
    • Ph.D., Cornell University, 1977
  • Selected Publications:
  • Books
  • Articles
  • Book Chapters