Manyul Im’s Chinese Philosophy Blog

… 名可名非常名 …

In Memoriam: John DeFrancis

August 31, 1911 – January 2, 2009

Many of us who have studied Chinese language are familiar with DeFrancis’s work. My first year Chinese class used his Beginning Chinese textbook. Here is a link to an obituary page on wordpress posted by some of his friends.


January 10, 2009 - Posted by | Chinese philosophy


  1. Thanks for this notice and link. His The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy changed my understanding of the Chinese written language forever.

    Comment by Bao Pu | January 11, 2009

  2. Thanks for the link. Yeah, we used Beginning Chinese I & II when I was a student at Penn State years ago. A fascinating life story.

    Comment by Dave Bonta | January 11, 2009

  3. I went through DeFrancis’s beginning and intermediate books I forget how long ago, and despite their age, they’re still some of the best resources I’ve found for vocabulary building.

    His work set a bar I’ve yet to see met by any other pedagogical resource, a shame given the modern tools we have at our disposal.

    Comment by Joshua Harwood | January 14, 2009

  4. Would appreciate any information on his original language text also called Beginning Chinese, published long before the series developed for Seton Hall University.

    C. P. Sobelman

    Comment by C.P. Sobelman | January 17, 2009

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