|Died||27 November 1938 (aged 67)|
Otto Dempwolff (25 May 1871 in Pillau, Province of Prussia - 27 November 1938, in Hamburg) was a German physician, linguist and anthropologist who specialized in the study of the Austronesian language family.
Initially trained as a physician, Dempwolff began his linguistic research while serving as medical doctor in the German colonies German New Guinea and German East Africa. Under the mentorship of Carl Meinhof, he began his academic career at the Hamburgisches Kolonialinstitut, which later became part of the University of Hamburg. In 1931, he founded the "Seminar für indonesische und Südseesprachen", which he headed until his death in 1938. He was also appointed to the "Königlich Preußische Phonographische Kommission" (Royal Prussian Phonographic Commission) for his expertise in medicine, as well as African and Indonesian languages. The purpose of the commission was to record the approximately 250 languages spoken by the prisoners of German WWI PoW camps.
His magnum opus Vergleichende Lautlehre des austronesischen Wortschatzes (Comparative phonology of Austronesian vocabularies) (1934-1937) was the first systematic and comprehensive reconstruction of the Proto-Austronesian sound system and vocabulary.