UM holds the Macao Humanities Forum on semantic changes in Asian languages

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities (FAH) of the University of Macau (UM) held the Macao Humanities Forum, featuring Hilary Chappell, chair professor at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris, France, and member of the Academia Europaea, as the speaker. Prof Chappell gave a lecture titled ‘Semantic Shifts and Areal Typology in Asia’, which attracted many on-site and online participants, including faculty members and students of UM.

In his speech, Joaquim Kuong, assistant dean of FAH, welcomed Prof Chappell and highlighted the significant role of Macao’s multilingual ecology in linguistic research. Xu Yuhang, assistant professor in FAH, presented Prof Chappell’s academic achievements in the field of linguistics.

The lecture focused on the common patterns of lexical polysemy and grammaticalisation pathways found in the languages of Mainland East and Southeast Asia (MESEA). Prof Chappell began with an overview of the linguistic areas in MESEA and explained the definitions of ‘linguistic area’ and ‘semantic change’. By using three linguistic patterns commonly found in the languages of MESEA as examples, she analysed the patterns of semantic changes at the lexical, morphological, and syntactic levels. She concluded that semantic change is the basis for lexical and morphosyntactic change, including grammaticalisation, and that the shared patterns of polysemy are a key means of identifying linguistic areas. Prof Chappell’s lecture provided case references for the study of linguistic typology and theoretical guidance for related research. During the Q&A session, Prof Chappell engaged in in-depth discussions with UM students, faculty, and the online participants.

This was the third lecture of the Macao Humanities Forum for the 2023/2024 academic year. The forum aims to invite renowned scholars in different fields of the humanities to share their latest research findings with students and faculty. Previous editions of the forum have covered a wide range of subjects, including literature, linguistics, history, translation, and arts.

Hilary Chappell