21st North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics
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The North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL) began life as a regional conference, the Northeast Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NECCL). It was first hosted at The Ohio State University, conceived and organized by Professor James H-Y. Tai (戴浩一), now at National Chung Cheng University but then an OSU faculty member in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures (DEALL). His team and junior partners consisted of Professor Marjorie K.M. Chan (陳潔雯), then co-organizer and now the current host for NACCL-20, and Professor Robert Sanders (沈德思), currently at the University of Auckland. A report on NECCL-1, authored by Professor Marjorie K.M. Chan, was subsequently published in Volume 17, Issue 2 of the Journal of Chinese Linguistics.

The second conference was held at the University of Pennsylvania, hosted by Professor Jerome Packard (裴吉瑞), now at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (where, incidentally, he helped to co-host NACCL-8 with his then-senior colleague, Professor Chin-chuan Cheng (鄭錦全)). These early conferences were well-received and attracted participants from far beyond the northeastern region of the United States. By the third conference — hosted by Professor James C-T. Huang (黃正德), currently at Harvard University but who was at Cornell University at the time of hosting that conference — there was genuine interest in expanding the geographical scope of the conference to the rest of the United States and to adopt a new name to reflect that increased geographical territory. With an amendment suggested by Professor Marjorie Chan to include her home country of Canada, NECCL underwent a sound-symbolic name change from NECCL to NACCL — the North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics.

NACCL has thrived in the intervening years through the dedication of scholars in Chinese linguistics who generously donated their time and energy to host the NACCL conferences. This can be seen in the list compiled by Professor Audrey Li of past NACCL conferences, posted at the USC website with information on venues and past organizers.

An important development came in 1994 with Professor Audrey Li's hosting of NACCL-6 and the creation of a NACCL proceedings, which became a series that has continued to the present. The NACCL Proceedings volumes are distributed by the Graduate Students in Linguistics at the University of Southern California through their GSIL Publications website.

While the NACCL Proceedings recorded the scholarly achievements over the years, on another front, NACCL hosts soon harnessed the World Wide Web for information dissemination. Not surprisingly, the first NACCL host to utilize the Web was none other than Professor Chin-chuan (“CC”) Cheng (鄭錦全), one of our most esteemed — and computer-savvy — Chinese linguists, who was also strategically located at the University of Illinois, the birthplace of first web browser, Mosaic, the precursor to Netscape (Mozilla). Since NACCL-8 (1996), every NACCL conference has been posted online for wide dissemination of information. In 2008, twelve years since the first NACCL conference had a web presence, seven NACCL conference websites are still available online, constituting roughly half of all the websites created for the NACCL conference series. That is quite a remarkable feat, given the notorious transience of websites and web pages in general. As of 2008, the seven NACCL conferences that still have home pages are NACCL-11 (1999), NACCL-14 (2002), NACCL-16 (2004), NACCL-17 (2005), NACCL-18 (2006), NACCL-19/IACL-15 (2007), and the current conference, NACCL-20 (2008).

The continued success of NACCL has also depended on the passing of the baton each year. On that, a great deal of debt is owed to NACCL-5 host then at the University of Delaware, Professor Thomas Ernst (殷天兴), who, one might add, also had previous connections with The Ohio State University. He took the important step to establish a NACCL Steering Committee consisting of past NACCL hosts, and guided the committee to assist “newbie” NACCL organizers. He also ensured that there would be a succession of NACCL hosts. Through his efforts, NACCL was held annually, and individual organizers benefited in being able to consult previous hosts, so that much collegial, behind-the-scenes teamwork exists in the hosting of NACCL conferences.

And, of course, ultimately, the success of a NACCL conference depends on the participation of presenters and attendees! We look forward to you joining us at NACCL-21 in June 2009!

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* The history of NACCL presented here was prepared in August 2007 by Marjorie K.M. Chan, NACCL-20 organizer, The Ohio State University. Additional information was included from time to time.)

 

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