Language and Culture in Northeast India and Beyond: In Honor of Robbins Burling was recently published by Asia-Pacific Linguistics. Professor (Emeritus) of Linguistics and Anthropology Robbins Burling (Ph.D., Harvard, 1958) joined the University of Michigan in 1964. He began as an associate professor of anthropology and assistant of the Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies. In 1966 he became a professor of linguistics and anthropology and associate of the Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies. He retired as Emeritus in 1995.
The editors best describe the driving force for this publication. “This volume celebrates the life and work of Robbins Burling, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Michigan, giant in the fields of anthropological linguistics, language evolution, and language pedagogy, and pioneer in the ethnography and linguistics of Tibeto-Burman speaking groups in the Northeast Indian region. We offer it to Professor Burling – Rob – on the occasion of his 90th birthday, on the occasion of the 60th year of his extraordinary scholarly productivity, and on the occasion of yet another – yet another! – field trip to Northeast India, where his career in anthropology and linguistics effectively began so many decades ago, and where he has amassed so many devoted friends and colleagues – including ourselves… A career as full and as productive as Rob Burling’s is honoured herein by papers that are as much personal tributes to Rob as they are valuable scholarly works in their own right… Rob Burling is in the truest sense a seminal figure in Tibeto-Burman studies, and especially in the linguistics and ethnography of Northeast India.”
“And finally,” in the words of the editors, “the time has come to thank Rob Burling himself, for inspiring us all in so many ways. Rob: for your brilliant scholarship, for the friendship and assistance you have extended to so many people, and for your dedication to and palpable love for the people of Northeast India and their languages – we thank you. This one is for you . . .”
Work by UM Linguistics Professor Sarah Thomason can be found in the historical phonology section. Professor Thomason, “presents a detailed analysis of sound changes involving velars in Montana Salish (Salish is also known as Salish-Pend d’Oreille, formerly known as Flathead), a language of North America, giving readers a considered account of a very common occurrence in comparative linguistics: irregularities that can’t easily be explained,” according to the editors. Her work, titled “Irregular Dorsal Developments in Montana Salish,” can be found on page 222.
Burling and the editors are dissatisfied at the immense cost that for-profit publishers place on academic volumes, severely limiting the availability of these works of linguistics and anthropology. Because of this, the publisher has made the downloadable ebook free with the hard copy costing only what it takes to produce, fifteen dollars.