The Faculty of Arts and Humanities recently held a two-day 24th International Conference on Yue Dialects. In the online linguistics conference, local scholars and those from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Europe and the United States exchanged research findings and insights on the dialects of Guangdong. The programme included two keynote speeches, three invited speeches, and twenty two presentations. Although there were fewer talks this year due to the pandemic, the quality of the talks was consistently high, having attracted over 80 scholars in the online exchange.

At the opening ceremony, Professor Xu Jie, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Head of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, delivered a welcoming speech. He reckoned that the theme “Language Contact” fit well into Macao’s role as a center of cultural exchange between China and the West. Professor Zhan Bohui, one of the founders of the International Conference on Yue Dialects and a 90-year-old professor at Jinan University, made remarks in a recorded short film at the opening ceremony. He pointed out that although Macau is small and not many people research Cantonese, the conference has been a pivotal event for scholars and students of Cantonese linguistics. Furthermore, Zhan encouraged young scholars to continue exploring the contact between Cantonese and other languages ​​and dialects.

Professor Kang-Kwong Luke, a keynote speaker from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, gave a new interpretation of Singapore’s multilingualism from the perspective of co-participants in conversation. Professor David Li, another keynote speaker and head of the Chinese and Bilingual Studies Department of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, surveyed the mixture use of monosyllabic English words and Cantonese in Hong Kong and explored the underlying mechanisms for the mixing.

The conference also commissioned three scholars to give invited lectures. Dr. Szeto Pui-Yiu from the University of Hong Kong discussed the typological relationship between Cantonese and other Lingnan languages. Dr. John Wakefield from the Hong Kong Baptist University discussed patterns of semantic change regarding English loanwords in Cantonese. Dr. Rachel Kan, a Postdoctoral Fellow from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, reported on the acquisition of Cantonese tones by children who speak Cantonese as a heritage language. The other 22 presentations touched on topics ranging from language contact and change, syntax and semantics, applied linguistics, to language acquisition, with rich content and innovative research perspectives. The conference attracted over 80 scholars from Macau, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia and Europe and the United States in online presentations and discussions.

The conference was hosted by the Department of English, FAH and co-organized by Joaquim Kuong, Assistant Dean of FAH, Brian Chan, an Associate Professor of the Department of English, and Tong Choi-Lan, an Associate Professor of the Macau Polytechnic Institute. They remarked that although the Novel Coronavirus pandemic had brought about many restrictions on travelling, the Organizing Committee insisted on holding the meeting, inheriting the spirit of this conference. The committee eventually decided to adopt a mixed format with online presentations and on-site audiences. The success of the conference was accomplished with the support of the university and the cooperation of scholars, which adds to an accomplished list of academic activities of UM.

For more information about the conference, please visit the following site: