What I do
In the academic year 2013-14
I am Willis F. Doney Member of the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study
I am an expert in Chinese language and translation, as well as a software engineer.
My previous career was as a professor of Chinese philology. I was tenured at the University of Maryland, but eventually left in order to join the computer industry. Later, I put myself through a course of undergraduate study in Computer Science at the Grove School of Engineering, City College of New York. I still have an active interest in sinology and even teach the occasional course at Columbia University, but translation and software engineering are now my main activities.
Current research interests
: Source code and computational materials are posted at github.com/databranner
rather than on this site.
Chinese Language Specialist
: For my research on Chinese lexicography and historical linguistics of Chinese, please see my publications
page. My translation work has mostly been anonymous.
I received my doctorate in Chinese dialectology and historical phonology under Jerry Norman at the University of Washington and in college I studied linguistic field methods under Robert Austerlitz at Columbia University. Academically, my specialties have been dialect classification and fieldwork (especially in rural western Fujian), the intellectual history of Chinese linguistics, and phonology in the service of literature and paleography. I founded and led the Yuen Ren Society for the Promotion of Chinese Dialect Fieldwork from 1990 until 2003. I also ran the Seminar on Early China at Columbia University together with Li Feng from 2004 to 2011.
I have been a tenured professor (University of Maryland) and have held management positions in New York industry (machine translation) and the non-profit sector (study abroad, scholarly organizations). I also often serve as a private consultant on Chinese language, including translation and accent-correction for Chinese speakers.