George W. Grace, born on 8 September 1921 in Corinth, Mississippi and raised on the Gulf Coast, is an emeritus professor of linguistics at the University of Hawaiʻi specializing in historical and comparative linguistics, ethnolinguistics, and Austronesian languages, especially the Oceanic languages of Melanesia. He joined the Department of Linguistics in 1964, serving three years as chair (1966–1969) and three decades as editor of Oceanic Linguistics (1962–1991), a journal he founded while teaching anthropology at Southern Illinois University (1960–1964).
After service with the United States Army Air Corps (1942–1946), he remained in Europe to earn his first university degree, a licence in political science from the University of Geneva in 1948. He then accepted a position as a junior research anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, where he did fieldwork in 1951 on the Luiseño language, collaborating with Alfred L. Kroeber on The Sparkman Grammar of Luiseño (University of California Press, 1960). In 1953–1955 he was a research associate for the Tri-Institutional Pacific Program (a consortium of Yale University, the University of Hawaii, and the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu) and then for Yale University conducting research in Austronesian linguistics. In 1955–1956 he conducted a survey in the field of many languages in the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, and the former Netherlands New Guinea. In 1956–1957 he was an associate in Malayo-Polynesian linguistics at the Bishop Museum.
He completed a Ph.D. dissertation in 1958 under Joseph Greenberg at Columbia University, which was published the following year under the title The Position of the Polynesian Languages within the Austronesian (Malayo-Polynesian) Language Family. After teaching at the Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (now, University of North Carolina at Greensboro) (1958–1959), at Northwestern University (1959–1960), and at Southern Illinois University (1960–1963), and serving as scholar in residence at the East-West Center in Honolulu (1964), he was hired by the newly formed Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawaiʻi, where he has remained, apart from further fieldwork in New Caledonia (1970, 1971–1973) and New Guinea (1976).
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