Professor Simmons’ research focuses on the history, geography, and relationships of the Chinese dialects. He has received numerous grants and awards to support his scholarship, including a multi-year grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. Simmons’ publications include Chinese Dialect Classification—A Comparative Approach to Harngjou, Old Jintarn, and Common Northern Wu (1999, with a Chinese translation published in 2010), Issues in Chinese Dialect Description and Classification (1999), Chinese Dialect Geography: Distinguishing Mandarin and Wu in Their Boundary Region (2006), Handbook for Lexicon Based Dialect Fieldwork (2006), and Shanghainese Dictionary And Phrasebook (2011).



  • Ph.D. University of Washington, Seattle
  • M.A. University of Washington, Seattle
  • B.A. University of Washington, Seattle


Areas of Specialization

  • Chinese Dialectology
  • Dialect Geography
  • Historical Chinese Linguistics


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Selected Articles and Book Chapters

  • 2015- "Mandarin, Varieties of." In Encyclopedia of Chinese Language and Linguistics. Brill Online, 2015. <>(Print version forthcoming.)
  • 2011- "Dialect Transition Zones in Southern Jiangsu—A Close Range Examination." In Microscopic Views of Language Distribution, edited by Cheng Chin-chuan, to be published by the Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica in Taiwan.
  • 2011- "The Rise of a New Urban Mandarin: Measuring the Outcome of Lexical Competition in the Contending Dialect Types of Jīntán County." In Urbanization, Language Contact, and Language Use in China, edited by Marinus van den Berg, Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 
  • 2011- "Mixed Mandarin & Wú—Dialects of Jìngjiāng Island 靖江方言的性质." In Bulletin of Chinese Linguistics. 
  • 2010- "The Affiliation of the Yánzhōu Dialects From the Perspective of Common Dialectal Chinese 从 汉语方言通音的角度考察严州方言的归属问题." In Studies in Honor of Jerry Norman 羅杰 瑞先生七秩晉三壽慶論文集, edited by W. South Coblin and Ann O. Yue 柯蔚南、余藹芹 主 編, published by the Ng Tor-tai Chinese Language Research Centre of the Institute of Chinese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong 香港中文大學中國文化研究所吳多泰中國語 文研究中心.
  • 2010- "Hangzhou Stories and Songs." In Columbia Reader of Chinese Folk and Popular Literature. Edited by Victor Mair and Mark Bender.
  • 2007- "Perspectives on the history of Guānhuà -- Thoughts upon reading W. South Coblin's studies of nányīn and běiyīn." In Modern Chinese phonology: from Guānhuà to Mandarin. By W. South Coblin. Collection des Cahiers de linguistique - Asie Oriental, 11. École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Centre de Recherches Linguistiques sur l'Asie Orientale. Paris.
  • 2006- "Common Dialect Phonology in Practice -- Y. R. Chao's Field Methodology." In The Chinese Rime-Tables: Linguistic Philosophy and Historical-Comparative Phonology. Ed. by David Prager Branner. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • 2006- "How Rime Book Based Analyses Can Lead Us Astray." In The Chinese Rime-Tables: Linguistic Philosophy and Historical-Comparative Phonology. Ed. by David Prager Branner. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Courses Taught

Selected Awards and Distinctions

  • Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies, Starr Foundation East Asian Studies Endowment Fund Member, Spring 2015
  • Henry Luce Foundation U.S. China Cooperative Research Program Grant, 1999-2005
  • Jiangsu Friendship Award, 2005