BA University of Michigan, English
MA University of Michigan, Linguistics

PhD University of Michigan, Linguistics

I came to the study of Thai and linguistics via the U.S. Peace Corps. President Kennedy delivered his speech establishing the Peace Corps while I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. In the spring semester of my senior year, I took a course taught by the then "Dean of Women," who had done volunteer work in an Eskimo village in Alaska. As the semester came to a close, one day she paused to tell my class, "You all should reflect on the point that as you are about to graduate, you are only half educated." She went on to say that we were educated only in Western culture and thought and that there was another half of the world that had something to teach: The East. Because I had been reading about the American physician Dr. Tom Dooley and the clinics that he set up for several minority groups in Laos, I began to be interested in neighboring Thailand as well. I soon applied to the Peace Corps. Not long afterwards, Kennedy was assassinated, a day that is seared in my memory. After finishing my assignment as a volunteer in Central Thailand, I worked briefly as an interpreter-escort for the US State Department before enrolling as a graduate student in the then newly established linguistics department at the University of Michigan, studying with one of the great giants of comparative-historical Tai linguistics, William J. Gedney. I travel often to Thailand and other areas in Southeast Asia and China to conduct fieldwork in Tai language communities.

Recent publications:
"A Linguistic Geography and History of Tai Meuang-Fai [Ditch-Dike] Techno-Culture."Journal of Language and Linguistics 16:2 (1998) 68-100;

"When Bargaining Was in Bloom: Changing Language and Social Relationships in Thai Food Markets." Southeast Asian Linguistic Studies in Honour of Professor Vichin Panupong. Arthur S. Abramson, ed. Bangkok: Chulalongkorn University Press, 1997, 97-114.

Current projects and interests:
In 1998, I was awarded a three-year $85,000 grant by the Henry R. Luce Foundation U.S.-China Cooperative Research Program to study "The Origins and Spread of Tai Irrigated Rice Engineering and Culture in Southern China." I, along with several other colleagues, received federal funding to develop a website for teaching Southeast Asian languages over the World Wide Web (see link below).

Teaching Responsibilities:
All classes in Beginning through Advanced Thai language and literature. Lao on demand.

Southeast Asian Languages Site
Thai Literature Syllabus
The Origins and Spread of Tai Irrigated Rice Engineering and Culture in Southern China

Email John Hartmann