François Martini

Portrait of François   Martini

François Martini (1895, Can Tho, Vietnam — 1965, France) was a major linguist versed in Khmer, Mon, Sanskrit and Pali languages.

Born from Corsican and Cambodian parents, he was severely wounded in action during World War I. Under Sylvain Lévi’s and André Martinet’s guidance, he studied Sanskrit and Orientalism at ELO (École des Langues Orientales, Paris), and created a specific chair for Khmer language studies since 1943. His PhD thesis at EPHH dealt with a Mon- and Khmer-influenced Pali text, the Dasa-Bodhisatta-Uddesa.

In Cambodia, François Martini became General Secretary of the Buddhist Institute (Institut Bouddhique) in 1947, when he started to collaborate with EFEO as a correspondent. Author of several manuals in Khmer linguistics, such as Méthode de lecture et de transcription du cambodgien (1932, 2 vol., Paris), he completed a French translation of the Ramakerti posthumously published by his spouse, Ginette Martini.

A promoter of Indochin’s decolonization, François Martini was also Editor-in-Chief of La Tribune indochinoise. Besides his academic work, he left numerous poems and one novel, La petite marchande de canne-à-sucre (1934).