Fanggui Li Collection

Mss.Ms.Coll.119

Date: 1928-1982 | Size: 1.5 Linear feet

Abstract

As s student of Edward Sapir at the University of Chicago, Fanggui (Fang-Kuei) Li spent two months during the summer of 1928 in northern Alberta studying Chipewyan and went on to a career that included pioneering work in other Dene ("Athapascan") languages (including Mattole, Hupa, and Wailaki), Thai, and Chinese. A longtime member of the Academia Sinica, Li was for many years a professor of Linguistics at the University of Washington and, at the end of his career, at the University of Hawaii. The Li Collection is comprised of ten volumes containing stories in Denesuline ("Chipewyan") collected in northern Alberta in 1928 by the Chinese-American linguist, Fanggui Li, along with an extensive Denesuline slip file. The texts contain phonetic transcriptions of stories elicited from François Mandeville and Baptiste Ferrier with interlinear English translations. These were edited and published Fanggui as Li and Ronald Scollon, Chipewyan Texts (Taipei: Academia Sinica, 1976). The collection also includes two cassettes containing an oral history interview with Li conducted in November 1982 by M. Terry Thompson and Laurence Thompson.

Background note

A student of Edward Sapir at the Univerity of Chicago, the linguist Fanggui (Fang-Kuei) Li was a pioneer in studying the Canadian and Pacific Coast Dene languages. After completing a Master's thesis on the Sarcee verb-stem in 1927, Li was advised by Sapir to continue on to other Athapascan languages, and with funding provided in part by the American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages, he spent the summer of 1927 getting an introduction to field research by working under Sapir on the Hupa reservation in California. Much of Li's effort that summer was spent on the language of the coastal Mattole, which had received virtually no previous attention, and to a lesser degree on Wailaki.

In the following year, Li arranged for two months of fieldwork at Fort Chipewyan, Alberta, where he studied the Denesuline ("Chipewyan") language with François Mandeville, a "half-breed from Fort Resolution." Arriving on June 28, 1928, Li worked intensively with Mandeville, whom he considered "very intelligent," although his dialect differed from that recorded by Père LeGoff in his Grammaire de la Langue Montagnaise (Montreal, 1889). Li had selected Chipewyan on the belief that it contained more "archaic features" than other Athapascan languages, and believed that it would therefore provide insight into the linguistic evolution of the family. During this field trip, he also collected material on Hare at Fort Smith and some Slavey. Later in his career, he did important work on determining the relationships between Eyak and other Dene languages.

Although Li retained an interest in Dene languages, by 1937 he became almost completely absorbed in classifying the major languages and dialects of China, the work for which he is best remembered. Li reconginized seven major branches, Mandarin (or Northern), Wu, Xiang, Gan, Kejia (or Hakka), Yue (or Cantonese), and Min.

Associated with the Institute of History and Philology from the 1920s on, Li held appointments in the Departments of Linguistics and Anthropology at the University of Washington until the 1970s, moving to the University of Hawaii.

Scope and content

The heart of the Fanggui Li Collection is comprised of ten notebooks kept by the Chinese-American linguist Fanggui Li relating to his research on the Denesuline ("Chipewyan") language in 1928. Recorded in the field, these texts consist of phonetic transcriptions of stories elicited from François Mandeville in Denesuline ("Chipewyan") (and, in one instance, Baptiste Ferrier) in July 1928, with interlinear English translations.

The balance of the collection consists of an extensive slipfile for the Denesuline ("Chipewyan") language, and two audio cassettes of oral history interviews conducted by Laurence C. Thompson and M. Terry Thompson in 1982, concering Li's memories of Edward Sapir and other colleagues in linguistics.

Digital objects note

This collection contains digital materials that are available in the APS Digital Library. Links to these materials are provided with context in the inventory of this finding aid. A general listing of digital objects may also be found here.

Collection Information

Provenance

Donated to the APS by M. Terry and Laurence Thompson, March 30, 1996 (1996-251, 252ms, 253r.

Preferred citation

Cite as: Fanggui Li Collection, American Philosophical Society.

Processing information

Catalogued by rsc, September 2002.

Separated material

One book owned by Li has been transferred for storage to the Printed Materials Department:

LeGoff, Laurent, Grammaire de la Langue Montagnaise (Montreal, 1889).

Related material

Li, Fanggui, Mattole, An Athabaskan Language (Chicago: Univ,. of Chicago, 1930). Call no.: 497.3 L622m

Additional correspondence of Fanggui Li is located in the papers of Franz Boas (B B61, including a two page report of the field season of 1928) and in the correspondence of the American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages (506.73 Am72co). The latter collection contains a report of his 1927 fieldwork with Sapir on Hupa, Mattole, and Wailaki, and correspondence relating to his grant.

Bibliography

Li, Fanggui and Ronald Scollon, Chipewyan Texts (Taipei: Academia Sinica, 1976). [Based principally upon the Chipewyan texts of François Mandeville]

Scollon, Ronald, Linguistic Convergence: an Ethnography of Speaking at Fort Chipewyan (N.Y.: Academic Press, 1979). [Includes important biographical information on Li and the context of the 1928 field season]

Scollon, Ron and Suzanne Wong Scollon. "Fang Kuei Li (1902-1987), an obituary" American Anthropologist 91 (1989):1008-1009.

Indexing Terms


Genre(s)

  • Field notes.
  • Slip files
  • Sound recordings

Personal Name(s)

  • Li, Fanggui
  • Sapir, Edward, 1884-1939
  • Thompson, Laurence C.
  • Thompson, M. Terry

Subject(s)

  • Chipewyan language
  • Indians of North America -- Languages
  • Linguistics


Detailed Inventory

Fanggui Li Collection
1928-19821.5 lin. feet
Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Texts I
July 192860p.box 1

Includes stories and interlinear translations elicited from François Mandeville:

Access digital object:
https://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/text:337711

Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Texts II
July 192860p.box 1

Includes stories and interlinear translations elicited from François Mandeville:

Access digital object:
https://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/text:337712

Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Texts III
July 192860p.box 1

Includes stories and interlinear translations elicited from Baptiste Ferrier and (second) François Mandeville:

Access digital object:
https://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/text:337713

Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Texts IV
July 192860p.box 1

Includes stories and interlinear translations elicited from François Mandeville:

Access digital object:
https://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/text:337714

Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Texts V
July 192860p.box 1

Includes stories and interlinear translations elicited from François Mandeville:

Access digital object:
https://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/text:337715

Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Texts VI
July 192849p.box 1

Includes stories and interlinear translations elicited from François Mandeville:

Access digital object:
https://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/text:337716

Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Texts VII
July 192858p.box 1

Includes stories and interlinear translations elicited from François Mandeville:

Access digital object:
https://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/text:337717

Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Texts VIII
July 192850p.box 1

Includes stories and interlinear translations elicited from François Mandeville:

Access digital object:
https://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/text:337718

Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Texts IX
July 192873p.box 1

Pages removed from their binding, and numbering restarts from page 1 after reaching page 6. Includes stories and interlinear translations elicited from François Mandeville:

Access digital object:
https://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/text:337719

Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Texts X
July 192832p.box 1

Includes stories and interlinear translations elicited from François Mandeville(?):

Access digital object:
https://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/text:337720

Li, Fanggui.
Chipewyan Slipfile
[1928]1 lin. foot (ca.1,500 slips)box 2
Thompson, Laurence C. and M. T.
Reminiscences of Edward Sapir and others
November 22, 19822 tape(s)2 audiocassettes
Tape 1
 1 cassette_tapes
01-01. Reminiscences about Sapir and others [1 of 3]
1982-11-221 .mp3; 00:29:22

Abstract: Part 1 of 3. Li's discussion in this program includes his early education and study of languages, going to the University of Chicago, Leonard Bloomfield, Edward Sapir's influence on his course of study, and the state of students' interest in linguistics in the 1920s.

Access digital object:
http://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/audio:23203

01-02. Reminiscences about Sapir and others [2 of 3]
1982-11-221 .mp3; 00:29:18

Abstract: Part 2 of 3. Li's discussion in this program includes his experiences of doing fieldwork on the Mattole language in Northern California in the late 1920s, discrimination against Chinese in that region at that time, working with Sapir on the Hupa reservation, methods for transcribing texts, and recording with wax cylinders.

Access digital object:
http://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/audio:16031

Tape 2
 1 cassette_tapes
02-01. Reminiscences about Sapir and others [3 of 3]
1982-11-221 .mp3; 00:31:36

Abstract: Part 3 of 3. Li's discussion in this program continues on the subject of fieldwork. Also includes question-and-answer session on miscellaneous topics.

Access digital object:
http://diglib.amphilsoc.org/islandora/object/audio:23204