Professor Justin Watkins
BA (Leeds), MA, PhD (London)
Professor of Burmese
Professor of Burmese
Academic Staff, Centre of South East Asian Studies
- Professor Justin Watkins
- Email address:
- 020 7898 4254
- SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
- Russell Square: College Buildings
- Office No:
- Office Hours:
- email for an appointment
I originally did BA in Chinese and Russian at Leeds University, but came to SOAS in 1994 and have never left. I did an MA in Phonetics here, and soon learnt that SOAS is the best place to be for anyone with an interest in languages beyond European borders.
I decided to concentrate on experimental and acoustic phonetics while studying for the MA, but at the same time started learning Burmese. The phonetics of Mon-Khmer language Wa was the subject of my PhD research, and I spent time in Yunnan and in Burma doing fieldwork for my dissertation. I have been visiting Burma regularly since 1997.
I first became Lecturer in Burmese at SOAS in 1999, and currently teach a range of courses in Burmese, Khmer and Phonetics. My current research interests include the Wa Dictionary Project, and the phonetics and linguistics of Burmese and other South-East Asian languages, especially minority languages.
Most recently, I have become interested in the languages of the Deaf communities in Burma, who use a number of number of interrelated sign-languages, and hope very much to be able to do more research on sign languages in Burma and in South-East Asia in the future.
I welcome anyone interested in coming to SOAS to study any of these subjects, be it at BA, MA or PhD level, to get in touch to find out more.
- BA Burmese (Myanmar) and...
- BA South East Asian Studies
- BA South East Asian Studies (including year abroad)
- BA South East Asian Studies and ...
- BA Thai and...
- Burmese Language 1
- Burmese Language 1 (PG)
- Burmese Language 2
- Burmese Language 2 (Postgraduate)
- Burmese Language and Texts
- Burmese Language and Texts (PG)
- Burmese Texts and Translation
- Directed Readings in Burmese
- Introduction to South East Asia
- Khmer (Cambodian) Language 1
- Khmer (Cambodian) Language 1 (PG)
- Language in South East Asia
- Phonetics (PG)
PhD Students supervised
- Julia An-Lun Cheng, An Investigation of the Constraints on Nominal Argument Drop in Mandarin Chinese Using Spoken Corpora
- Samuil Marusca, The intonational phonology of Romanian
- Yingying Mu, Documentation of Pela and language contact between Pela and Zaiwa in lexical and syntactic borrowings
Recent PhD Students Supervised
- Chris Button. 2009. A Reconstruction of Proto Northern Chin in Old Burmese and Old Chinese Perspective. "Button's original research on the languages of the Northern Chin group provides a precious body of data for the growing number of scholars working on unravelling the strands of genetic vs. contact relationship in this crucially important linguistic area of the world." - Prof J A Matisoff, examiner.
- Helga So-Hartmann. A descriptive grammar of Daai Chin. 2008. Revised thesis published as Volume 7 in the STEDT Monograph Series. "This is the most detailed and sophisticated grammar of a Chin language to have appeared since Eugénie J.A. Henderson’s classic (1965) study of Tiddim (Northern Chin group). The Daai language is an important member of the Southern Chin group, with about 45,000 speakers."
ResearchBurmese languages and Burmese linguistics; experimental and acoustic phonetics; computer lexicography; minority languages of South East Asia; Mon-Khmer and Tibeto Burman languages; tone languages. Sign languages in Burma and South East Asia. See also AHRC-funded Wa Dictionary Project & SOAS Burmese language pages
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- Special Study Programmes
- Short Term Consultancy
- East Asia
- South East Asia
- Chinese Mandarin
- Khumi Chin
Watkins, Justin (2013) Dictionary of Wa (2 vols). Leiden: Brill. (Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section 3)
Watkins, Justin (2002) The Phonetics of Wa. Experimental Phonetics, Phonology, Orthography and Sociolinguistics. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, The Australian National University.
Edited Books or Journal Volumes
Watkins, J, ed. (2005) Studies in Burmese linguistics. Canberra:Pacific Linguistics (Australian National University) Pacific Linguistics (Australian National University).
Watkins, Justin (2013) 'Grammatical aesthetics in Wa.' In: Williams, Jeffrey P., (ed.), The Aesthetics of Grammar: Sound and Meaning in the Languages of Mainland Southeast Asia. Cambridge University Press, pp. 99-117.
Watkins, Justin (2007) 'Burma/Myanmar.' In: Simpson, A., (ed.), Language & National Identity in Asia. Oxford University Press, pp. 263-287.
Watkins, Justin (2005) 'Constituent Focus in Burmese: A Phonetic and Perceptual Study.' In: Watkins, J., (ed.), Studies in Burmese Linguistics. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics (The Australian National University), pp. 27-331.
Oyetade, Akin and Hayward, K. and Watkins, Justin (2003) 'The Phonetic Interpretation of Register: Evidence from Yoruba.' In: Local, J. and Ogden, R. and Temple, R., (eds.), Phonetic Interpretation. Papers in Laboratory Phonology IV. Cambridge University Press, pp. 305-321.
Watkins, Justin (1999) 'Closed quotient of laryngeal gestures and settings in Wa.' In: Proceedings of the XIVth Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Univ of California, pp. 1017-1020.
Watkins, Justin (2013) 'A first account of tone in Myebon Sumtu Chin.' Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area, 36 (2). pp. 97-127.
Watkins, Justin (2013) 'A first look at tone in Myebon Sumtu Chin.' SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics, 16 . pp. 79-104.
Watkins, Justin (2003) 'Tone and Intonation in Burmese.' Proceedings of the 15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences . pp. 1289-1292.
Watkins, Justin (2001) 'Pitch-phonation correlations in Sgaw Karen.' SOAS Working papers in Linguisitics and Phonetics, vol. 1 . pp. 31-44.
Watkins, Justin (2000) 'Notes on creaky and killed tone in Burmese.' SOAS Working papers in Linguisitics and Phonetics, 10 . pp. 139-149.
Watkins, Justin (1997) 'Can phonation types be reliably measured from sound spectra? Some data from Wa and Burmese.' SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics and Phonetics, 7 . pp. 321-339.
Conference or Workshop Items
Watkins, Justin (2010) Topicalisation, focus-clefts and stranded prepositions in Wa. In: 20th Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, 10-11 June 2010, University of Zurich. (Unpublished)
Justin, Watkins (2010) Sign language in Burma: two Burmese finger spelling systems used in Yangon. In: Burma Studies Conference 2010: Burma in the Era of Globalization, 6-9 July 2010, Université de Provence, Marseille, France. (Unpublished)
Watkins, Justin (2009) Quelques observations sur les langues des signes en Birmanie. In: Atelier Birmanie: atelier interdisciplinaire sur le thème "Réflexions sur la Birmanie comme lieu de disparités et de convergences", 18-20 June 2009, IRSEA, Université de Provence, Marseille, France. (Unpublished)