Alan M. Stevens


Smiling man with thinning slightly curly brown hair, a wide smile, and rectangular large rimless glasses looking directly at the camera. He is wearing a 1960's style beige and brown flowered button down shirt, open at the neck, with a wide collarAlan M. Stevens (1935–2024), a distinguished Austronesian scholar and lexicographer with a long career at Queens College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, died on March 14, 2024, of a cardiac arrest at his home in New York City.

A Bronx native and graduate of the Bronx High School of Science (1952) and Columbia College (1956), Alan earned a PhD in linguistics at Yale (1964), studying with Isadore Dyen, a foremost Austronesianist. Alan’s early field work in Madura launched years of scholarship, including his magisterial Madurese Phonology and Morphologyi and a series of articles elegantly laying out phonological and morphological puzzles such as Madurese reduplicationii and exploring sociolinguistic topics such as Madurese language levelsiii. Later field work in the Philippines yielded an article on verb-forms in Bikoliv.

Alan’s most monumental contribution to Austronesian scholarship was two editions of A Comprehensive Indonesian-English Dictionary, with A. Edward Schmidgall-Tellings,v,vi. Considered the standard Indonesian-English dictionary, it was particularly valued by a global community of translators. At the time of his death, Alan was gathering materials for a third edition.

After two years teaching at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Alan returned to New York City, where he co-founded the Queens College Linguistics Department with the late R.M.R Hall in 1967. For more than 35 years he taught there and at the CUNY Graduate Center, holding leadership positions at both sites. Alan also taught Indonesian and Malay to Americans headed for government work in Indonesia and led Indonesian interpretation workshops at the Monterey Institute Graduate School of Translation and Interpretation.

After retiring from Queens College in 2005, Alan devoted himself to Indonesian and Malay translating, interpreting, and consulting until his death. He was a lover of Bach, a devotee of French language and film, and a dogged contributor to the New York Times's Letters to the Editor. Alan is sorely missed by his wife of 42 years, Linda (Audette) Stevens, whom he met in Java in 1979; and by his four children and his grandson.

i Stevens, Alan M. 1968. Madurese Phonology and Morphology. American Oriental Series Volume 52. New Haven: American Oriental Society.
ii Stevens, Alan M. 1985. Reduplication in Madurese. Proceedings of the Second Eastern States Conference on Linguistics. The State University of New York at Buffalo. 232–242. Stevens, Alan M. 1992. Madurese reduplication revisited. Papers from the Second Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society 1992. Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. 357–381.
iii Stevens, Alan M. 1965. Language levels in Madurese. Language 41.2.294–302.
iv Stevens, Alan M. 1973. Non-finite verb forms in Bikol. Parangal kay Cecilio Lopez: Essays in Honor of Cecilio Lopez on his Seventy-Fifth Birthday. Linguistic Society of the Philippines. 232–235.
v Stevens, Alan M. and A. Ed. Schmidgall-Tellings. 2004, 2010. A Comprehensive Indonesian-English Dictionary. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. 1103 pp.
vi A. Ed. Schmidgall-Tellings and Alan M. Stevens. 1981. Contemporary Indonesian-English Dictionary: a supplement to the standard Indonesian dictionaries with particular concentration on new words, expressions, and meanings. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. 388 pp.