Walter Simon (sinologist)

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Walter Simon
Born (1893-06-10)10 June 1893
Berlin, Germany
Died 22 February 1981(1981-02-22) (aged 87)
London, England
Institutions SOAS, University of London
Alma mater University of Berlin
Notable students Edwin G. Pulleyblank

Ernest Julius Walter Simon CBE FBA (10 June 1893 – 22 February 1981) was a German sinologist and librarian. He was born in Berlin and lived there, being educated at the University of Berlin, until he fled the Nazis to London in 1934, where he spent all the rest of his life except for brief periods as a visiting professor in various countries, teaching Chinese at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London from 1947 to 1960. He made great contributions to historical Chinese phonology and Sino-Tibetan linguistics.


  • Higher Library Service, Berlin University Library, 1919–35
  • Exchange Librarian, National Library of Peking, 1932–33
  • Lecturer in Chinese, University of Berlin, 1926–32; Extraordinary Professor of Chinese, University of Berlin, 1932–34
  • Lecturer, School of Oriental and African Studies, 1936; Reader in Chinese, University of London, 1938; Professor of Chinese, University of London, 1947–60, Emeritus Professor, 1960
  • Visiting Professor: University of Toronto, 1961–62; Australian National University, Canberra, 1962; Tokyo, Canberra and Melbourne, 1970

Simon was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1961.

Other posts[edit]

  • Editor, Asia Major, 1964–75
  • Honorary Fellow, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • Honorary Vice-President, Royal Asiatic Society, 1976-1981 (Gold Medal, 1977)

Publications on Chinese linguistics[edit]

  • (in German) Zur Rekonstruktion der altchinesischen Endkonsonanten, 2 Parts, 1928–29
  • (in German) Tibetisch-chinesische Wortgleichungen: Ein Versuch, W. de Gruyter & Co., Berlin 1930.
  • Chinese Sentence Series, 3 volumes, 1942–44
  • The New Official Chinese Latin Script Gwoyeu Romatzyh: Tables, Rules, Illustrative Examples, Probsthain, London 1942.
  • Chinese National Language (Gwoyeu) Reader and Guide to Conversation, 1943 (2nd edn 1954, reprinted 1972).
  • 1200 Chinese Basic Characters, 1944 (4th repr. 1975)
  • How to Study and Write Chinese Characters, 1944 (3rd reprint 1975)
  • Structure Drill through Speech Patterns, I. Structure Drill in Chinese, 1945 (2nd edn 1959, reprinted 1975)
  • A Beginners' Chinese-English Dictionary of the National Language (Gwoyeu) / Chujyi Jong-Ing Gwoyeu Tzyhdean 《初級中英國語字典》, Lund Humphries & Co. Ltd., London 1947. (4th edn 1975)

Publications on Tibetan linguistics[edit]


External links[edit]

  • Walter Simon: A scholar-Librarian and his East Asian Collection, National Library of Australia.
  • Obituary, by H. L. Shorto, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 45, No. 2. (1982), p. 344, available through JSTOR.
  • Bawden, Charles R. (1981). “Ernst Julius Walter Simon.” Proceedings of the British Academy 67: 459-477.
  • Loewe, Michael (1982). “Professor Walter Simon, C.B.E., F.B.A.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 2 (1982), pp. 44–47.
  • Schindler, Bruno (1963). “List of Publications by Professor W. Simon.” Asia Major (New Series) 10: 1-10.