William Shipley (linguist)

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William F. Shipley (1921 – January 20, 2011) was a linguist and speaker of the Maidu language of Northern California.[1]

Shipley was a student of anthropologist and linguist Alfred Kroeber, and linguist Mary Haas at UC Berkeley.[2] During World War II, he was part of a program to teach US Army soldiers to speak Mandarin Chinese at Berkeley.

Shipley began studying the Mountain Maidu language in 1953 with Maym Benner Gallagher, a Maidu elder. He continued to work with Kenneth Holbrook to continue to document and record the Maidu language.[3] Their collaboration led to a book of Maidu texts and dictionary.[4] as well as a grammar of Maidu.[5]

Shipley taught as a professor of linguistics at UC Santa Cruz from 1966 to 1991. After his retirement, he continued to work in spreading knowledge about the Maidu language and culture. His book of translated Maidu stories, The Maidu Indian Myths and Stories of Hánc'ibyjim, was published by Heydey Books in 1991. He died of complications from pneumonia on January 20, 2011.[1] He was the father of screenwriter Michael Shipley and teacher Freya Shipley.


  1. ^ a b Baković, Eric (February 3, 2011). "William F. Shipley, 1921-2011". Language Log. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
  2. ^ Reti, Irene. "Out in the Redwoods: Interview with William Shipley". Out in the Redwoods Regional History Project. University Library, UC Santa Cruz. Retrieved 2009-09-29.
  3. ^ Slater, Dashka (July–August 2004). "Keepers of a Lost Language". Mother Jones Magazine. Retrieved 2009-09-29.
  4. ^ Shipley, William F. (1963). Maidu Texts and Dictionary. University of California Publications in Linguistics. 33. University of California. OCLC 568945.
  5. ^ Shipley, William F. (1964). Maidu Grammar. University of California Publications in Linguistics. 41. University of California. OCLC 254471823.

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