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Turrell V. Wylie

Terry Wylie
File:Turrell Wylie.png
Born August 1927
Durango, Colorado, United States
Died August 25, 1984 (aged 57)
Seattle, Washington, United States
Nationality American
Institutions University of Washington
Alma mater University of Washington (B.A., Ph.D.)
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Turrell Verl "Terry" Wylie (August 1927 – August 25, 1984) was an American scholar, Tibetologist, sinologist, and professor, known as one of the 20th century's leading scholars of Tibet. He was for many years professor of Tibetan at the University of Washington and its first chair of the Department of Asian Languages and Literature. Wylie founded the Tibetan Studies program at the University of Washington, the first such program in the United States. His romanization system for rendering the Tibetan language, known as Wylie transliteration, is the main system used for transcribing Tibetan in academic and historical contexts.

Life and career

Turrell Verl "Terry" Wylie was born in Durango, Colorado in August 1927. He attended the University of Washington as an undergraduate student, where he graduated with a B.A. degree.[1] Wylie then continued on at Washington as a graduate student, where he earned a Ph.D. in Chinese in 1958 with a dissertation entitled "The Geography of Tibet According to the 'Dzam-gling-rgyas-bshad".

In 1960, following the People's Liberation Army takeover of Tibet, Wylie invited Sakya Dagchen Rinpoche, one of the main hierarchs of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism, along with his family and his tutor Dezhung Rinpoche, to Seattle where they settled.

Amongst students of Tibetan, Wylie is best known for the system of Tibetan transliteration described in his article A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription (1959). This has subsequently become the almost universally adopted scheme for accurately representing the orthography of Tibetan in the Latin script, and is commonly known as Wylie transliteration.

Wylie died of cancer on August 25, 1984. Upon his death, the 14th Dalai Lama remarked, "Dr. Wylie's strong and genuine feelings for the Tibetan people and their just cause will long remain deeply appreciated. In the death of Dr. Wylie we have lost a true friend and a distinguished scholar of Tibetan studies."[2]

Publications (selection)


  • (1950) A Tibetan religious geography of Nepal (Serie Orientale Roma XLII), Rome, Istituto per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente
  • (1957) A Place Name Index to George N. Roerich's translation of the Blue Annals (Serie Orientale Roma XV), Rome, Istituto per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente
  • (1975) Tibet’s role in Inner Asia. Bloomington, Ind., Indiana University, Asian Studies Research Institute


  • (1959) A Standard System of Tibetan Transcription. Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (Vol. 22) p. 261-267
  • (1959) Dating the Tibetan Geography 'Dzam-gling-rgyas-bshad through its description of the western hemisphere. Central Asiatic Journal (vol. IV-4), p. 300-311
  • The Tibetan Tradition of Geography. Bulletin of Tibetology, p. 17-26


  1. ^ Miller (1986), p. 150.
  2. ^ Reflections on Tibetan Culture: Essays in Memory of Turrell V. Wylie. ed. Lawrence Epstein & Richard F. Sherburne. Edwin Mellen Pr: 1990 ISBN 0-88946-064-7 pg x
Works cited
  • Miller, Roy Andrew (1986). "Turrell V. Wylie (1927-1984)". Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 9 (1): 150–155. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 

External links

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