1.1 Mission and objectives
Our department¡¦s mission is to serve the faculty, the university, and the community by providing quality education in linguistics; and to contribute to scholarship by conducting research and producing original publications in linguistics at the highest international level.
Currently, our department is already a leading department in Hong Kong and China. However, within the next five years (that is, by 2015) we shall strive to be one of the best departments of Linguistics worldwide (the best 100 Comprehensive Linguistics Departments in the world), especially in the areas of China-West comparative linguistic studies, with particular respect to the description, analysis, and documentation of Chinese, but also other Asian languages; and African and European languages.
2. Staff and student numbers
The department currently has only seven tenure-track academic positions. We are supported by temporary staff including RAPs, PDFs and demonstrators. We are teaching 120 undergraduate majors (the highest or second highest in the faculty for the past three years) and more than 30 research postgraduates. We also teach a self-funded MA with 40 full- and part-time students.
3. Undergraduate Teaching
Our undergraduate programme provides basic training in General Linguistics. Within our BA programme in General Linguistics we focus on three interrelated areas, comprising (i) Language Description and Documentation, (ii) Empirical Pycholinguistics, and (iii) Language and Society. In addition to this core linguistic concentration we also offer BA majors in Human Language Technology, and Linguistics and Philosophy. We also collaborate with departments in this and other faculties to teach the BA/BEd programme and the Bachelor of Social Science degree in Cognitive Science. Every year, a number of our students participate in Worldwide Exchange Programmes and study abroad for up to one year. We also have visiting
students from overseas universities almost every year. Students graduating from our department have had little problem finding suitable employment. In the last two years, most of our graduates found a job within six months after graduation. Our graduates are particularly interested in pursuing further education: as many as 35% went on to do postgraduate studies last year, many of them with prestigious postgraduate scholarships.
4. MA in Linguistics
We teach a well-developed MA programme on full- and part-time basis, which has as its main objectives the updating of knowledge in Linguistics and the provision of training in the use of modern techniques in linguistic research. The course is in considerable demand not only from our own graduates but also teachers and researchers from outside HKU.
One of the most distinctive aspects of this department in the faculty and in the university as a whole is that we have published in most, if not all, of the very top journals in Linguistics and related areas. These include (but are not limited to) Nature, Linguistic Inquiry, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, Studies in Language, Linguistics, Lingua, Language Sciences, International Journal of Bilingualism, Current Biology, China Quarterly, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Chinese Journal of Phonetics, and Research on Language and Social Interaction. No department of Linguistics in Hong Kong and China has currently covered this range of top-level journal publications as we have. Indeed, few departments of Linguistics anywhere in the world have done better. On our website at <www.hku.hk/linguist> we constantly update the top 100 items of publications (journal articles, books and book chapters) in the last five years.
Our research covers a wide range of areas such areas as phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, lexicology, dialectology, linguistic theory, language universals and typology, language documentation, language in culture and society, conversation analysis, computational and corpus linguistics, and language and cognitive neuroscience. The department has two research labs, one in Phonetics and the other in Language and Cognitive Neuroscience. The latter is a National Key Lab.
In addition to the theoretical work, members of staff are engaged in applied research and technology transfer and Knowledge Exchange. We have an on-going close collaboration with the Clinical Genetic Service of the Department of Health and a number of large hospitals in Hong Kong (Princess Margaret, Queen Mary, Tsan Yuk).
The department has been very active in seeking research funding, and very successful in obtaining support. In the past three years, for example, the department has succeeded in obtaining five major external grants to the tune of HKD10 million. Our top 10 research projects are highlighted on our website.
6. Research Postgraduate Student Supervision
The department has a constant intake of high-quality research postgraduates. Some were our own outstanding undergraduates; others come from China and overseas. Currently there are 30 full-time research postgraduates (10 PhD and 20 MPhil) from Hong Kong, mainland China and abroad. Our research postgraduates are very active in conducting their designated research as well as attending local and international conferences. In the last 3 years, many of them have received major awards for research excellence. Increasingly, like their supervisors, they are publishing in book collections and refereed journals too.
7. National and international standing and collaboration
The department is internationally known for its excellence in research and publications in the fields of Cantonese linguistics, conversation analysis, language typology, Lexical Functional Grammar, and the study of reading and language comprehension in Chinese and Chinese-English bilinguals. We have formal links and ongoing collaborative research and joint publication projects with universities in the US (Texas, UCLA, UCSB, Georgetown, Stanford), the UK (Leeds, Cardiff, Nottingham and Warwick), Europe (Trondheim, Amsterdam), mainland China (Beijing Normal, Jinan), Asia (Japan, Singapore), and Australia (Melbourne). Academic conferences, workshops and institutes are a regular part of our department¡¦s activities. In the last 3 years, we have held several international conferences on Chinese linguistics, Lexical Functional Grammar, Medical communication, and Language and Cognitive Neuroscience, workshops on African languages and linguistics and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging. In 2011 the department will also be host to two of the world¡¦s best known Linguistics conferences: the Association for Linguistic Typology and the annual conference of the International Association of Lexical Functional Grammar.
8. Community Outreach and Knowledge Exchange
The department is very conscious of the need to relate to the Hong Kong community. Members of staff serve on government advisory boards and do many other types of consultantcy work. We also work in close collaboration with community groups for the purposes of Knowledge Exchange.