CityU hosts Cantonese dialect conference alongside pre-historic rock carvings

Sharon Ng


The 13th International Conference on Cantonese and Yue Dialects will be held at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) from 18 to 20 December. Among the topics to be covered will be the origins, evolution and applications of the Cantonese language, including the difficulties faced by native Cantonese-speakers in learning Putonghua (modern standard spoken Chinese) and written Chinese.

In addition to the conference, an exhibition of prehistoric rock carvings found in and around Hong Kong will also be held. About a dozen replica items will be on display.

Guests officiating at the opening ceremony of the 13th International Conference on Cantonese and Yue Dialects cum Exhibition on Pre-historic Rock Carvings in Hong Kong and the Region today (18 December) were Mr Tsang Tak-sing, Secretary for Home Affairs, Professor Jonathan Webster, Head of the Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics at CityU, and Professor Benjamin T’sou Ka-yin, Convenor of the Conference and Director of the Language Information Sciences Research Centre.

Mr Tsang pointed out that language could serve to reflect the attributes of the culture of which it was a part. “Cantonese undoubtedly plays an essential role in Hong Kong culture and is an important connection linking Hong Kong and Guangdong Province.” The conference adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to Cantonese, he said, adding that the rock-carving exhibition offered further substantiation of the research into the Yue dialects.

"The International Conference on Cantonese and Yue Dialects has been held 12 times, and CityU is pleased to have the privilege of hosting this year’s event. In addition to the conventional topics on the intrinsic linguistic properties of Cantonese, we hope to include Cantonese operas and songs, language acquisition and education, amongst others," said Professor T’sou.

CityU is committed to enhancing academic quality through the promotion of academic exchange. Scholars from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Canada, the US, Japan, Germany and the UK will participate in the 13th International Conference on Cantonese and Yue Dialects and present more than 80 papers.


Keynote speakers are Professor Mai Yun from the Institute of Linguistics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China, Professor Bell Yung from the Department of Music at University of Pittsburg, US, and Professor Thomas Lee Hun-tak from the Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Professor Mai will discuss how the evolution and qualities of Cantonese help studies into varieties of Chinese in his address, Cantonese Studies and Chinese Linguistics. Professor Yung will deliver a lecture on Linguistic Tones, Lyrics and Melody in Cantonese Opera. In his keynote address, What Cantonese-speaking Children Can Tell Us About the Structure of Cantonese, Professor Lee will explore the linguistic development in children’s brains, analyse the linguistic patterns of native Cantonese speakers and discuss the difference between Cantonese and Putonghua.

The replicas displayed in the exhibition are borrowed from the Antiquities and Monuments Office. They represent the original rock carvings still on site in coastal areas of the territory, including Tung Lung Island, Cheung Chau, Big Wave Bay and Lung Ha Wan. Also on display are photos of rock carvings discovered in Zhuhai, Macau, Taiwan and Fujian, which reflect the civilisation of Baiyue peoples who lived in southern China more than 3,000 years ago.

The exhibition will be held at CityU Gallery, 6/F, Amenities Building from 18 December 2008 to 31 January 2009.

For details of the 13th International Conference on Cantonese and Yue Dialects, please visit the website:


Contact Information

Communications and Institutional Research Office

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