Cross-linguistic collaboration and innovation:
The University of Macau establishes Centre for Linguistics

The University of Macau officially established the Centre for Linguistics in early 2022, under the administration of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities (FAH). On the morning of March 24, FAH held an opening ceremony at the E21-G016 Lecture Hall, with the university leaders, off-campus guests, and related teachers and students attending this particularly meaningful event.

The opening ceremony began at 10 a.m. with Rector Song Yonghua delivering a speech amid warm applause. He expressed his heartfelt congratulations on the establishment of the Centre for Linguistics, and introduced to all the teachers, students and guests in the audience the historical background of the centre and the grand blueprint of its future development.

Rector Song noted that UM is proud to have a team of internationally well-known linguists. Among the various disciplines offered at FAH, UM’s linguistics subject has been ranked the highest in the QS World University Rankings by Subject. However, there is not an independent department for linguistics. The UM linguists are distributed in FAH, Faculty of Social Sciences, Faculty of Education, and Faculty of Science and Technology, and most notably in the Department of Chinese Language and Literature, Department of English, Department of Portuguese, and the Centre for Japanese Studies of FAH. The establishment of the Centre for Linguistics therefore unites the interdisciplinary work of the UM linguists and actively promotes high-calibre cross-linguistic research, as well as providing an effective platform for the organisation of linguistics conferences and the publication of academic journals, monographs and series.

Intertwined in the multiple factors of history and reality, Macao is a small place where many languages ​​and cultures coexist. It is nicknamed “a living museum of multiculturalism” and “a natural laboratory of many languages”. The special historical encounters, geographical location, economic life and political ecology determine the harmonious coexistence of different languages ​​and cultures in Macao. Its natural multilingual and multicultural ecology and relatively closed geographical environment provide a rare and almost perfect classic example for the study of languages and cultures in contact, linguistic and cultural variation, and the mutual influence and integration of different languages ​​and cultures. These have developed into world-class research topics with profound theoretical significance and immensely practical values. With the joining of new colleagues such as Professor Yuan Yulin, we have high hopes for the future development of the Centre for Linguistics and the entire linguistics discipline of the University of Macau!

Subsequently, Rector Song, together with Prof. Xu Jie, Dean of FAH and Director of the Centre for Linguistics, Prof. Li Defeng, Associate Dean of FAH and Director of the Centre for the Studies of Translation, Interpreting and Cognition, Prof. Wang Qingjie, Associate Dean of FAH, Professor Yuan Yulin, and Prof. Andrew Moody, Associate Director of the Centre for Linguistics, officiated the plaque unveiling ceremony, amidst enthusiastic applause.

Immediately following the unveiling ceremony was the signing of the agreement of cooperation between FAH (represented by Dean Xu) and the Macao Linguistics Society (represented by President Huang Yi) concerning the Macao Journal of Linguistics, a publication established in 1995 before Macao’s handover. Over the past 20 years or so, with the effort of Prof. Ching Cheung Fai, this journal has published a huge number of quality research papers that are impactful in the field of linguistics, earning for itself a decent business card within the field. After the agreement signing, FAH will be in charge of the publication of this biannual journal, in collaboration with the Macao Linguistics Society. It is expected that the journal will reach a new height in the future.

Prof. Yuan Yulin, a renowned linguist and Chang Jiang Scholar (of China’s Ministry of Education), joined the Department of Chinese Language and Literature on a full-time basis on 1 March as Chair Professor. After the plaque unveiling ceremony and the agreement signing, Professor Yuan delivered his first academic lecture since he joined UM. The lecture, titled “Polarity in the Semantics of Adjectives and Relevant Syntactic Conditions”, was filled with thorough and fascinating analysis. The interaction between the speaker and the audience was lively, and the atmosphere was relaxing.

Assistant Dean Victoria Lei hosted the plaque unveiling ceremony and the agreement signing, whereas Assistant Dean Joaquim Kuong chaired Prof. Yuan’s lecture. Filled with the sincere wishes and ardent expectations of the university leaders, guests, teachers and students, UM’s Centre for Linguistics has made a perfect start, setting sail and marching calmly towards a more brilliant future!