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Roy Andrew Miller

Roy Andrew Miller (September 5, 1924 – August 22, 2014[1][2]) was an American linguist notable for his advocacy of Korean and Japanese as members of the Altaic group of languages.


  • Biography 1
  • Selected works 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Miller was born in Winona, Minnesota, USA, on September 5, 1924, to Andrew and Jessie (née Eickelberry) Miller. In 1953, he completed a PhD in Chinese and Japanese at Columbia University in New York. Long a student of languages, his early work in the 1950s was largely with Chinese and Tibetan. For example, in 1969 he wrote the Encyclopædia Britannica entry on the Tibeto-Burman Languages of South Asia.

He was Professor of Linguistics at the International Christian University in Tokyo from 1955 to 1963. Subsequently he taught at Yale University; between 1964 and 1970, he was chairman of the department of East and South Asian Languages and Literatures. From 1970 until 1989 he held a similar post at the University of Washington in Seattle. He then taught in Europe, mainly in Germany and Scandinavia.

He wrote extensively on the Japanese language, from A Japanese Reader (1963) and The Japanese Language (1967) to Japanese and the Other Altaic Languages (1971) and Nihongo: In Defense of Japanese (1986). He later broadened his scope by linking Korean both to Japanese and Altaic, most notably in Languages and History: Japanese, Korean, and Altaic (1996).

On the occasion of his 75th birthday, Professors Karl Menges and Nelly Naumann prepared a Festschrift highlighting his career and including articles on Altaic languages.[3]

Selected works


  • 1967a. The Japanese Language. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle.
  • 1971. Japanese and the Other Altaic Languages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-52719-0.
  • 1976. Studies in the Grammatical Tradition in Tibet. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • 1980. Origins of the Japanese Language: Lectures in Japan during the Academic Year 1977–78. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-95766-2.
  • 1982. Japan's Modern Myth: The Language and Beyond. Tokyo: John Weatherhill Inc. ISBN 0-8348-0168-X.
  • 1986. Nihongo: In Defence of Japanese. London: Athlone Press. ISBN 0-485-11251-5.
  • 1993. Prolegomena to the First Two Tibetan Grammatical Treatises. (Wiener Studien zur Tibetologie und Buddhismuskunde 30.) Vienna: Arbeitskreis für Tibetische und Buddhistische Studien Universität Wien.
  • 1996. Languages and History: Japanese, Korean and Altaic. Oslo: Institute for Comparative Research in Human Culture. ISBN 974-8299-69-4.


  • 1955a. "Studies in spoken Tibetan I: Phonemics." Journal of the American Oriental Society 75: 46–51.
  • 1955c. "Notes on the Lhasa dialect of the early ninth century." Oriens 8: 284–291.
  • 1955d. "The significance for comparative grammar of some ablauts in the Tibetan number-system". T'oung-pao 43: 287–296.
  • 1955e. "The Independent Status of Lhasa dialect within Central Tibetan." Orbis 4.1: 49-55.
  • 1956. "Segmental diachronic phonology of a Ladakh (Tibetan) dialect." Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morganländischen Gesellschaft 106: 345–362.
  • 1956. "The Tibeto-Burman ablaut system." Transactions of the International Conference of Orientalists in Japan / Kokusai Tōhō Gakusha Kaigi kiyō 1: 29–56.
  • 1957. "The phonology of the Old Burmese vowel system as seen in the Myazedi inscription." Transactions of the International Conference of Orientalists in Japan / Kokusai Tōhō Gakusha Kaigi kiyō 2: 39–43.
  • 1962. "The Si-tu Mahapandita on Tibetan phonology." 湯浅八郎博士古稀記念論文集 / Yuasa Hachirō hakushi koki kinen ronbunshu / To Dr. Hachiro Yuasa; A Collection of Papers Commemorating His Seventieth Anniversary, 921–933. Tokyo: 国際基督教大学 / Kokusai Kirisutokyō Daigaku.
  • 1966. "Early evidence for vowel harmony in Tibetan." Language 42: 252–277.
  • 1967b. "Old Japanese phonology and the Korean–Japanese relationship."
  • 1967c. "Some problems in Tibetan transcription of Chinese from Tun-huang." Monumenta Serica 27: 123–148 (publ. 1969).
  • 1978, "Is Tibetan genetically related to Japanese?", in: Proceedings of the Csoma de Körös memorial Symposium, ed. L. Ligeti, Budapest 1978, pp. 295–312.)
  • 2002. "The Middle Mongolian vocalic hiatus." Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 55.1–3: 179–205.
  • 2008 "The Altaic Aorist in *-Ra in Old Korean." Lubotsky, Alexander, ed. Evidence and counter-evidence : essays in honour of Frederik Kortlandt Amsterdam: Rodopi. (Studies in Slavic and general linguistics; 32-33) 267-282.


  • 1955b. Review of 稻葉正就 Inaba Shōju, チベット語古典文法学 / Chibettogo koten bunpōgaku [Classical Tibetan Language Grammatical Studies] Kyoto: 法藏館 Hōzōkan, 1954 (昭和 Shōwa 29). Language 31: 481–482.
  • 1968. Review of András Róna-Tas, Tibeto-Mongolica: The Loanwords of Mongour and the Development of the Archaic Tibetan Dialects (Indo-Iranian Monographs 7), The Hague: Mouton, 1966. In Language 44.1: 147–168.
  • 1974. "Sino-Tibetan: Inspection of a Conspectus." Journal of the American Oriental Society 94.2: 195-209.
  • 1982. "Linguistic issues in the study of Tibetan Grammar." Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde Südasiens und Archiv für indische Philosophie 26: 86-116.
  • 1994. "A new grammar of written Tibetan." Review of Stephen Beyer, The Classical Tibetan Language, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992. Journal of the American Oriental Society 114.1: 67–76.
  • 2001 Review of Philip Denwood, "Tibetan", (London Oriental and African Language Library, vol. 3). Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1999. Journal of the American Oriental Society 121.1:125–128.


  1. ^ Obituary
  2. ^ Obituary
  3. ^ Menges, Karl H., and Nelly Naumann (eds.) (1999). Language and Literature – Japanese and the Other Altaic Languages: Studies in Honour of Roy Andrew Miller on His 75th Birthday. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

External links

  • Roy Andrew Miller (1924–2014) by Marc Miyake
  • Roy Andrew Miller, an unsung hero (villain) of academic dissing
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