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Prof. WEBSTER, Jonathan  (衛真道)

BA MA PhD (SUNY Buffalo)


Contact Information

Office: YEUNG-B7718
Phone: (852) 3442 8775
Fax: (852) 3442 0359
Email: ctjjw@cityu.edu.hk
Web: -
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Research/Teaching Interests

  • Systemic Functional Linguistics
  • Text linguistics
  • Visual semantics
  • Intelligent linguistic applications

Teaching Interests

Last updated: 10 September 2014

Visiting Professor (2014-2017)
School of Foreign Languages
School of International Studies
Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
Honorary Professor (2011-2012)
“Migratory Birds” Professor (2010-2011)
Guizhou University for Nationalities

Prof. Jonathan WEBSTER received his PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo in Linguistics. Prior to coming to Hong Kong in 1987, he taught at the National University of Singapore in the Department of English Language and Literature. His research interests include text linguistics, computational lexicography, and example-based machine translation. Research and Teaching Interests Text Linguistics Computational Lexicography Example-based Machine Translation

Selected Publications (in recent 6 years)


  • Webster, Jonathan J. (Ed.) Context in the System and Process of Language: The Collected Works of Ruqaiya Hasan, Vol 4.  London: Equinox, 2015.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. (Ed.)  Aspects of Language and Learning.  Springer 2015.
  • Webster, Jonathan J.  Understanding Verbal Art: A Functional Linguistic Approach.  Springer, 2014.
  • Halliday, M.A.K. and Webster, Jonathan J. Text Linguistics: The How and Why of Meaning.  London: Equinox. 2014.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. (Ed.) Collected Works of Braj Kachru, Vols. 1-3.  London: Bloomsbury. 2014.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. (Ed.) Halliday in the 21st Century: Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday, Vol. 11.  London: Bloomsbury. 2014.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. (Ed.) The Bloomsbury Companion to M.A.K. Halliday.  London: Bloomsbury, 2014.
  • Fang, Yan and Webster, Jonathan J. (Eds.) Developing Systemic Functional Linguistics: Theory and Application.  London: Equinox, 2014.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. (Ed.) Language and Education: Learning and Teaching in Society, The Collected Works of Ruqaiya Hasan, Vol 3. London: Equinox, 2011.
  • Webster, Jonathan J.  Return to origins: the poet and the Tao – Edwin Thumboo’s ‘Uncle Never Knew’.  Singapore: Ethos Books. 2009.  Published in conjunction with the President’s Command Performance, April 2009.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. (Ed.) Essays on Edwin Thumboo.  Singapore: Ethos Books,2009.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. (Ed.) Semantic Variation: Meaning in Society and in Sociolinguistic, The Collected Works of Ruqaiya Hasan, Vol 2. London: Equinox, 2009.
  • Halliday, M.A.K. and Webster, Jonathan J. (Eds.) Continuum Companion to Systemic Functional Linguistics. London: Continuum Books, 2009.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. (Ed.), The Essential Halliday.. London: Continuum, 2009.

Journal Articles

Journal Editorship

  • WORD, Managing Editor 2013-ongoing
    • WORD is the journal of the International Linguistics Association, headquartered in New York.   It is not a new journal but has been around for over fifty years - since 1945.  Over the course of its history, the journal has enjoyed an impressive roster on its editorial board including such well-known linguists as André Martinet, Ruth Brend, Edward G. Fichtner, William G. Diver, Uriel Weinreich, Robert P. Austerlitz, Robert L. Allen, and Joseph Greenberg — to name just a few.  Early members of the ILA, which was originally known as the Linguistic Circle of New York, included Roman Jakobson, Morris Swadesh, André Martinet, Henri F. Muller, Giuliano Bonfante, Robert Austerlitz, Robert Fowkes, Henry Lee Smith, Wolf Leslau, and Louis H. Gray.  As its new Managing Editor, I have been tasked with building WORD into a premier 21st  century journal of linguistics.
  • Linguistics and the Human Sciences (UK: Equinox) Founding Editor (2005-onoing)
    • Linguistics and the Human Sciences is devoted to exploring the relationships between linguistics and other areas of scholarly concern, including but not limited to history, sociology, politics, archaeology, religious studies, translation, and the study of art.  The first issue appeared in July 2005.
  • Journal of World Languages (UK: Routledge, Taylor & Francis) Founding Co-Editor (2013-ongoing)
    • This new journal explores linguistic, communicative and socio-cultural implications of the spread of languages worldwide.  In addition to an editorial board of leading international scholars, the Editors are joined by five associate editors who are representative of major world languages.

Journal Publications

  • Xia, J.B., X. Zhang, D.-J. Yuan, L.-L. Chen, Webster, Jonathan J. and A.C. Fang. 2013. Gene Prioritization of Resistant Rice Gene against Xanthomas oryzae pv. oryzae by Using Text Mining Technologies. BioMed Research International (formerly titled Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology), vol. 2013, Article ID 853043, 9 Pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/853043 (SCI)
  • Zhang, X., J. Xia, J. Webster and A.C. Fang. 2013. Identification of discriminative features for biological event extraction through linguistically informed feature selection. International Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment (JFAE), No 1, Vol 11.
  • Ide, Nancy, A C Fang, Jonathan Webster.  2012.  Global Interoperability for Language Resources:Introduction to the Special Section.  Lang Resources & Evaluation 46:265–267.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. 2012. Reading A Poet Reading.  Journal of Literary Semantics. Volume 41, Issue 1, Pages 25–46, March 2012
  • Webster, Jonathan J. 2011. Creativity and Grammar. Social Sciences Edition, Journal of University of Science and Technology Beijing. Volume 27, No. 4, 8-19.
  • Yan Hengbin, Jonathan J. Webster. 2011. A Collaborative Cloud-based Tagger for Annotating and Visualizing Functional and Discourse Structures. Social Sciences Edition, Journal of University of Science and Technology Beijing. Volume 27, No. 4, 32-36.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. 2011. Online Language Learning for Addressing  Hong Kong  Tertiary Students’ Needs in Academic Writing.  Asia Pacific World.  Volume 2, No. 2, Autumn 2011.
  • Chen Zili, Jonathan J. Webster, Ian C. Chow. 2010.  “A novel method to compute English verbs’ metaphor making potential in SUMO”. Innovations and Advances in Computer Sciences and Engineering, Springer, pp 243-247.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. 2010. “Texture beyond the clause”. Annual Review of Functional Linguistics, 2, pp 94-113.
  • Webster, Jonathan J.  2010. Review of Braj B Kachru, Yamuna Kachru, and S.N. Sridhar (Eds.): Language in South AsiaWorld Englishes, Vol. 29, No. 1.  pp 146-149.
  • Chen Zili, Jonathan J. Webster, I. C. Chow, Hao Tianyong. 2009. “Ontology Oriented Computation of English Verbs Metaphorical Trait” in Research in Computing Science, Vol. 41, Centre for Computing Research of National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico, pp 135-142.
  • Lam, Marvin and Jonathan J. Webster. 2009. “The Lexicogrammatical Reflection of Interpersonal Relationship in Conversation”.  Discourse Studies, 11(1), pp 37-58.

Book Chapters

  • Webster, Jonathan J. and  Joe Chan, Victor Yan & Kim Wong. (2013) Visualizing the architecture and texture of a text: a case study of selected speeches of US President Barack Obama. In Feng SHI and Gang PENG (Eds.) Festschrift in Honour of  Prof. William S-Y. Wang's 80th birthday.  City University of Hong Kong Press, pp 301-324.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. 2009. “Language in Hong Kong: Ten years on (1997–2007)”. In Thomas Hoffmann and Lucia Siebers (Eds.), World Englishes – Problems, Properties and Prospects. Selected papers from the 13th IAWE conference. John Benjamins, pp.143-154.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. and I.C. Chow. 2009. “Relational Network Notation and the Intelligent Web” in Vincent Ooi, et.al. (Eds.) Perspectives in Lexicography: Asia and beyond. Singapore: K Dictionaries, pp. 225-238.
  • Webster, Jonathan J. 2009. “An Introduction to Continuum Companion to Systemic Functional Linguistics” In M.A.K. Halliday and Jonathan J. Webster (Eds.) Continuum Companion to Systemic Functional Linguistics, London: Continuum, pp.1-11.

Research Grants (as Principal Investigator)

Current Project

  • Cloud-based Platform for Visual Semantic Analysis with Innovative ‘Instant-Visualization’ User Interface

The Visual Semantics Interface (VSI) is a collaborative platform built on a web-based infrastructure that could turn raw text into annotated visualization analyses.  The Visual Semantics Interface facilitates collaborative coding of texts as a basis for subsequent interrogation and pattern visualization.  The general idea of VSI is to first import raw language data into the system.  After automatic parsing, users may further annotate the data as a precursor to subsequent visualization of patterns discovered in the text.            

PI – Professor Jonathan J Webster (CTL/HCLS)

AI – Dr John Lee (CTL/HCLS)

Strategic Research Grant (SRG)

Total funding = HK$100,000        


Completed Research Projects

  • Data is Beautiful: Visualization in the Humanities

Along with my co-investigators, we have proposed a cross-disciplinary course which brings together linguists, media artists, designers and computer scientists to apply state-of-the-art visualization techniques to textual data, exploring why visualization not only looks good but is a potent tool for analysis.

PI – Professor Jonathan J Webster  (CTL/HCLS)

AI – Dr Sarah Kenderdine (CTL/HCLS/SCM)

       Dr John Lee (CTL/HCLS)

       Dr Daniel Howe (SCM)

Interdisciplinary Professional Development Award (IPDA);

Total funding = HK$250,000

Completion date: 6/2013


  • A Remote-access Multilingual Corpus-based System for Linguistic Applications (RAMCORP)

The primary objective of the project was the development of a remote-access multilingual, corpus-based (RAMCORP) system is proposed to serve as a platform for not only providing sophisticated automatic translation services via the latest mobile and internet technologies, but also for carrying out corpus-based linguistic investigations as part of translation and multilingual studies.

CityU Research Project - Infrastructure Account of School/College (APR);

Total funding = HK$1,500,000.00

Completion date: 7/2011


  • Modeling Meaning in the E-learning Context

In this study, my co-investigators and I have set out to explore how meaning is transacted in a Blackboard (Bb)-mediated environment. This study employed empirical data collected from three Language Companion Courses conducted in Semester B, 2007-08. In particular, the study focused on the feedback and advice provided by online language coaches on students’ academic writing skills and the responses produced by the students to the coaches’ comments.

CityU Teaching and Learning Fund (TLF);

Total funding = HK$ 560,000.00

Completion date: 4/2009


  • Multi-document Automatic Summarization for Chinese Language Web-based Texts

This project explored cutting-edge technology for multi-document automatic summarization based on information fusion and novel text structure representation with support from large-scale linguistic resources.

CityU Strategic Research Grant for unfunded GRF (SRG-Fd);

Total funding = HK$ 179,000.00; Completion date: 2/2009


  • Example-based Machine Translation of Legal Texts

This project applied the “example-based” approach to the translation of the specialized language of legislation and legal documents.

RGC Competitive Earmarked Research Grant (CERG);

Total funding = HK$ 1,500,000.00;   Completion date: 11/2003


  • WWW Lexical Database

The goal was to develop an on-line bilingual dictionary data retrieval tool for language learners and professionals, providing comprehensive coverage of Chinese and English words.

CityU Strategic Research Grant; Total funding = HK$ 389,480.00

Completion date: 11/2001


  • Website Management Programme (MMIT sub project) 

The WMP gave students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in setting-up and managing a web-server dedicated to publishing information on the Chinese language and topics in Chinese linguistics. 

CityU Teaching Development Grant; Total funding = HK$ 1,490,000.00

Completion date: 9/2001


  • FHS Student Advising Scheme

With full implementation of the credit unit system, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences initiated implementation of a new strategy for student advising.

CityU Teaching Development Grant; Total funding = HK$ 513,240.00      

Completion date: 7/2001


  • Functional Semantic Processing of Chinese and English Texts

The goal of the research was to update the FSP (Functional Semantic Processor), developed in previous research, as an internet application with the database maintained on a central server, accessible across the internet by clients using an interactive interface deployed locally.

CityU Strategic Research Grant; Total funding = HK$ 280,451.00

Completion date: 4/2000

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Postal address: City University of Hong Kong B7704, 7/F, Blue Zone, Lift 3, Academic 1 83, Tat Chee Avenue Kowloon HK
Tel:(852)3442 8705, Fax:(852) 3442 0359 / 3442 0358, E-mail: ctlenq(at)cityu.edu.hk
2000/11/06 10 September 2014 Staff profile page contact Person description:
WEBSTER, Jonathan Professor ctjjw@cityu.edu.hk lt.cityu.edu.hk/images/People/Photos/ctjjw.jpg (852) 3442 8775
YEUNG-B7718 CityU