Leon Serafim

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Leon Angelo Serafim (born May 23, 1945) is an American academic.[1] He is a Japanologist, linguistic historian and professor emeritus of the University of Hawaiʻi.

The widely accepted linguistics term "Japonic languages" was coined by Serafim to identify and characterise the Japanese which is spoken on the main islands of Japan and the Ryukyuan spoken on the island of Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands.[2]

Early life[edit]

At the end of Serafim's studies at the University of California, Berkeley in 1968, he was awarded a B.A. in Oriental Languages. After further study at the University of Hawaiʻi, he earned a master's degree in East Asian Languages in 1976. His Ph.D. in Linguistics was conferred by Yale University in 1984.[3]


Serafim is a member of faculty of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Hawaii.[3] He is associated with the university's Centers for Japanese Studies.[4]

Serafim was the founding Director of the Center for Okinawan Studies.[5] His on-going research investigates the relationship of changes in language, culture, and demography of the Ryukyus.[3]

Selected works[edit]

In a statistical overview derived from writings by and about Leon Serafim, OCLC/WorldCat encompasses roughly 6 works in 10+ publications in 2 languages and 100 library holdings.[6]

  • Shodon: the Prehistory of a Northern Ryukyuan Dialect of Japanese (1984)
  • Early Japanese Vocalism and Vowel Concord (1976)


  1. ^ Library of Congress Authority file, Serafim, Leon Angelo n87-834425
  2. ^ Shimabukuro, Moriyo. (2007). The Accentual History of the Japanese and Ryukyuan Languages: a Reconstruction, p. 1.
  3. ^ a b c University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Leon Serafim Archived 2011-04-23 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Center for Japanese Studies.
  5. ^ University of Hawaiʻi Foundation press release, "First Okinawan Studies Endowment Fund," April 9, 2010; Center for Okiniawan Studies
  6. ^ WorldCat Identities Archived 2010-12-30 at the Wayback Machine: Serafim, Leon Angelo


  • Shimabukuro, Moriyo. (2007). The Accentual History of the Japanese and Ryukyuan Languages: a Reconstruction. London: Global Oriental. ISBN 9781901903638; OCLC 149189163