Academia Sinica (AS), the most preeminent academic institution in the Republic of China (ROC), was founded in Nanjing (China) 1927. During its early stage of development 10 institutes were created, 3 of which were in the field of humanities and social sciences. In 1949, it moved to and re-established in Taiwan, only 2 of its institutes, History & Philology and Mathematics, ever arrived and these were established in Nankang.
The origin of Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica (ILAS) is the Division of Linguistics, Institute of History and Philology whose history can be traced back to the beginning of AS in 1927. Established by eminent Chinese linguist Yuen Ren Chao, the Division’s focus was mainly on historical evolution, philological reconstruction and field documentation. However, since then linguistics has made quantal leaps and expanded from philosophical discourse and historical comparison to incorporating the common biological, behavioral, psychological and cultural foundation of the human mind and communication through speech. By integrating anthropological field investigation to study languages without writing systems, utilizing psychological experimentation to study mind from language and physiological investigation to study cognition from language, establishing systematic understanding of language with scientific means has made linguistics an independent basic discipline in its own right. In recognition of linguistics as a basic discipline, the spin-off of the Linguistics Division from History & Philology was formally approved by the AS, and the preparatory office for the Institute of Linguistics was established on August 13, 1997; the Institute was formally established on February 20, 2004.
At present, there are 18 research fellows and 2 adjunct fellows with expertise in a wide range of sub-areas of linguistics. The comprehensive objective of the Institute is to achieve scientific and systematic knowledge about human language by conducting linguistic as well as interdisciplinary research on languages of Taiwan and genetically and regionally-related languages. With special focus on first-hand empirical data, important contributions have been made in fundamental linguistic analyses, language archiving, linguistic computation and simulation, and neurological as well as cognitive implications.