I’ve just stumbled across a book-length series of interviews with Y.R. Chao (Zhao Yuanren / Zhào Yuánrèn / 趙元任 / 赵元任). Even better: The complete text is available for free on the Web!
China Scholars Series: Chinese linguist, phonologist, composer and author, Yuen Ren Chao. An Interview Conducted by Rosemany Levenson, with an introduction by Mary Haas.
Wow. This is absolutely fabulous. The Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley, deserves praise for this. Other works of interest to readers of Pinyin News are also available; but more about those later, in separate posts.
In case any readers are not familiar with Chao (1892-1982), he was the finest linguist ever to come out of China. He was also a supporter of romanization; he was even the lead creator of an ingenious if somewhat complicated romanization system for Mandarin: Gwoyeu Romatzyh. But there’s no way a few short sentences could do justice to the depth and breadth of Chao’s learning. To get a better idea of the man, read the introduction to the work linked to above — and then read the rest!
Further reading: Y.R. Chao’s translation into Gwoyeu Romatzyh of the Humpty Dumpty section of Through the Looking-Glass, with Hanyu Pinyin and English