James A. Matisoff
Southeast Asian languages, especially Tibeto-Burman and Thai, Chinese, Japanese, field linguistics, Yiddish studies, historical semantics, psychosemantics, language typology, area linguistics
Ph.D., Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley, 1967. After having first taught at Columbia University (1966-69), he joined the Berkeley faculty in 1970. He has conducted fieldwork on Lahu and other Tibeto-Burman languages in Thailand (1965-66, 1970, 1976-77, 1985, 1991) and China (1983, 1984, 1991). He is editor of the journal, Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area, and is principal investigator of the Sino-Tibetan Etymological Dictionary and Thesaurus (STEDT) project, which has been supported by NSF and NEH since 1987. He is author of The Grammar of Lahu; Variational Semantics in Tibeto-Burman; Blessings, Curses, Hopes, and Fears: Psycho-ostensive Expressions in Yiddish and The Dictionary of Lahu. During his sabbatical in Taiwan (1995-96) he worked on a comprehensive volume entitled, Languages of Mainland Southeast Asia, to appear in the Cambridge Language Survey series and did a month’s fieldwork in Yunnan on the Pumi language. He is considered one of the world's foremost authorities on Southeast Asian Linguistics. His “Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman” (650 pp.) was published by U.C. Press in 2003.
Selected publications1972. The Loloish Tonal Split Revisited. Research Monograph No. 7, Center for South and Southeast Asia Studies, University of California, Berkeley. 88 pp.
1973. The Grammar of Lahu. University of California Publications in Linguistics, No. 75. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London. li + 673 pp., map, photographs, 57 figures, indexes, bibliography. Reprinted 1982.
1978. Variational Semantics in Tibeto-Burman: the 'organic' approach to linguistic comparison. Occasional Papers of the Wolfenden Society on Tibeto-Burman Linguistics, Volume VI. Publication of the Institute for the Study of Human Issues (ISHI), Philadelphia. xviii + 331 pp.
1979. Blessings, Curses, Hopes, and Fears: Psycho-ostensive Expressions in Yiddish. Publication of the Institute for the Study of Human Issues (ISHI), Philadelphia. xx + 140 pp.
1988. The Dictionary of Lahu. University of California Publications in Linguistics, Vol. 111. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London. xxv + 1436 pp. 80 plates, 12 frontispiece photos. Includes 8 pp. booklet "Errata and Obiter Dicta."
1991."Sino-Tibetan linguistics: present state and future prospects." Annual Review of Anthropology 20:469-504.
1995. "Sino-Tibetan numerals and the play of prefixes." Bulletin of the National Museum of Ethnology (Osaka) [Kokuritsu Minzokugaku Hakubutsukan Kenkyuu Hookoku] 20.1:105-252.
1996. Languages and Dialects of Tibeto-Burman. STEDT Monograph Series #2. Berkeley: Center for Southeast Asia Studies, University of California. xxx + 180 pp.
1998a. "Dayang Pumi phonology and adumbrations of comparative Qiangic." Mon-Khmer Studies 27:171-213.
1998b. "Aspects of aspect, with special reference to Lahu and Hebrew." In Yasuhiko NAGANO, ed., Time. Language, and Cognition, pp. 171-215. Senri Ethnological Studies, No. 45. Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology.
2000a. Blessings, Curses, Hopes, and Fears: Psycho-ostensive Expressions in Yiddish. Republication of 1979a, with a new introduction by the author. xxx + 160 pp. Hardcover and paperback. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
2000b. "An extrusional approach to *p/w- variation in Sino-Tibetan." Language and Linguistics Vol. 1, No.2: 135-86. Taipei: Academia Sinica, Institute of Linguistics.
2003. Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: system and philosophy of Sino-Tibetan reconstruction. University of California Publications in Linguistics, Vol. 135. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. xlii + 750 pp.
2005. English-Lahu Lexicon. 258 pp. University of California Press.