Alexander Vovin

Alexander Vladimirovich Vovin (Russian: Александр Владимирович Вовин; born 27 January 1961) is an American linguist and philologist, born in Russia (Soviet Union), currently director of studies at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS)) in Paris, France.

Alexander Vladimirovich Vovin
Александр Владимирович Вовин
Born (1961-01-27) 27 January 1961 (age 59)
Leningrad, USSR
(present-day St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)

Alexander Vovin earned his M.A. in structural and applied linguistics from the Saint Petersburg State University in 1983, and his Ph.D. in historical Japanese linguistics and premodern Japanese literature from the same university in 1987, with a doctoral dissertation on the Hamamatsu Chūnagon Monogatari (ca. 1056). After serving as a Junior Researcher at the St. Petersburg Institute of Oriental Studies (1987–1990), Assistant Professor of Japanese at the University of Michigan (1990–1994), Miami University (1994–1995), and assistant and associate professor at the University of Hawai'i (1995–2003), he became the full professor at the same university and continued working there until 2014. He has also been a visiting professor at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto (2001–2002, 2008), a visiting professor at the Ruhr University Bochum, Germany (2008–2009), and a visiting professor at the National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics (NINJAL) in Tokyo, Japan in May–August 2012.

Alexander Vovin specializes in Japanese historical linguistics (with emphasis on etymology, morphology, and phonology), and Japanese philology of the Nara period (710–792), and to a lesser extent of the Heian period (792–1192). His most current project involves the complete academic translation into English of the Man'yōshū (ca. 759), the earliest and the largest premodern Japanese poetic anthology, alongside the critical edition of the original text and commentaries. He also researched the moribund Ainu language in northern Japan, and worked on Inner Asian languages and Kra–Dai languages, especially those preserved only in Chinese transcription, as well as on Old and Middle Korean texts.


  • Vovin, Alexander (1993). A Reconstruction of Proto-Ainu. Leiden: E. J. Brill. ISBN 90-04-09905-0.
  • Vovin, Alexander. (2000). Did the Xiong-nu speak a Yeniseian language?. Central Asiatic Journal, 44(1), 87-104.
  • Vovin, Alexander. (2001). Japanese, Korean and Tungusic. Evidence for genetic relationship from verbal morphology. David B. Honey and David C. Wright (eds.), 183-202.
  • Vovin, Alexander; Osada Toshiki (長田俊樹), eds. (2003). 日本語系統論の現在 [Perspectives on the Origins of the Japanese Language]. Nichibunken sōsho, 31. Kyoto: International Research Center for Japanese Studies. ISBN 978-4-901558-17-4. ISSN 1346-6585.
  • Vovin, Alexander (2003). A Reference Grammar of Classical Japanese Prose. London: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 0-7007-1716-1.
  • Vovin, Alexander. (2003). Once again on lenition in Middle Korean. Korean Studies, 27, 85-107.
  • Vovin, Alexander (2005). A Descriptive and Comparative Grammar of Western Old Japanese: Part 1: Sources, Script and Phonology, Lexicon and Nominals. Folkestone, Kent: Global Oriental. ISBN 1-901903-14-1.
  • Vovin, Alexander (2006). The Manchu-Tungusic Languages. Richmond: RoutledgeCurzon. ISBN 978-0-7007-1284-7.
  • Vovin, Alexander (2008). Korea-Japonica: A Re-evaluation of a Common Genetic Origin. Hawaii studies on Korea. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-3278-0.
  • Vovin, Alexander (2009–2018). Man'yoshu: A New English Translation Containing the Original Text, Kana Transliteration, Romanization, Glossing and Commentary. Global Oriental/Brill., 20 volumes
  • Vovin, Alexander (2009). A Descriptive and Comparative Grammar of Western Old Japanese: Part 2: Adjectives, Verbs, Adverbs, Conjunctions, Particles, Postpositions. Folkestone, Kent: Global Oriental. ISBN 978-1-905246-82-3.
  • Vovin, Alexander. (2011). Why Japonic is not demonstrably related to ‘Altaic’or Korean. In Historical Linguistics in the Asia-Pacific region and the position of Japanese, The International Conference on Historical Linguistics (ICHL) XX.
  • Vovin, Alexander. & McCraw, D. (2011). Old Turkic Kinship Terms in Early Middle Chinese. Türk Dili Araştırmaları Yıllığı Belleten, 1, 105-116.
  • Vovin, Alexander. (2017). Koreanic loanwords in Khitan and their importance in the decipherment of the latter. Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, 70(2), 207-215.

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