DEC Activities and Works

Programme based

Undergraduate

BALLT/BALLA

LT3211 Semantics

2016-2017

Does "jing1goi1"(應該) express necessity or possibility in epistemic and deontic modality?

Students Teacher
Dr. TSAI, Cheng Yu Edwin

This study aims to explore the role of a special modal verb jing1goi1(應該) in Cantonese, wishing to determine whether it expresses necessity or possibility. Another objective is to examine whether its role varies in epistemic and deontic modalities. As a result, this study provides some interesting findings, concluding that the force of jing1goi1 is scalar rather than polar, and its forces do differentiate in deontic and epistemic modalities. This study investigates into the questions which prior researches seldom touched, and it provides some preliminary but inspiring findings.

 

Full report

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LT4216 Advanced Topics in Linguistics

2016-2017

Formal Semantic Analysis of Cantonese expressive adjective laap6saap3

Students Teacher
Dr. HARA, Yurie

Laap6saap3 (垃圾) has been used frequently in our daily lives. We usually say laap6saap3 when we want to indicate that specific thing is useless. We are thus interested in investigating whether laap6saap3 is a conventional implicature (CI) defined by Potts (2003) as introduced in our lectures. Surprisingly, we found that laap6saap3 is not a CI because it does not fit all CI properties. When we analyzed further, we found that laap6saap3 is an at-issue entailment. However, it is not a uni-dimensional at-issue entailment which we always encounter, but a multi-dimensional one which one or more at-issues are included in the sentence containing laap6saap3.

 

Slides

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Full report

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LT4216 Advanced Topics in Linguistics

2016-2017

CI Analysis of 嘅 ‘ge2’

Students Teacher
Dr. HARA, Yurie

In Cantonese, a sentence final particle is used to modify an entire proposition. The declarative ‘ge2’ is one of the particles used to make an emphasis. This project aims to ascertain the conventional implicature (CI) status of 'ge2' by analyzing empirical data. It was found that ‘ge2’ demonstrates the four properties which are unique to CIs. They are: Lexicality, Commitment, Speaker’s Orientation and Independence of At-issue Meanings (Potts, 2003). Our hypothesis is that the Cantonese sentence final particle ‘ge2’ carries a secondary meaning ‘the speaker does not fully agree…’ and such secondary meaning is a CI. A formal analysis of ‘ge2’ based on LCI is provided to show the derivation of the four characteristic properties.

 

Slides

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Full report

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LT4227 First Language Acquisition

2016-2017

Early Words and Language Development of an English-Speaking Child

Students Teacher
Dr. CHAN, Yuet Hung Cecilia

The paper aims to discover the patterns of language development of children by reviewing data from the Providence Corpus. The spontaneous speech between an English-speaking child named William and his parent who speak Standard American English are analyzed. The role of mother in early language development is also examined by comparing the transcript of William aged 1 year 8 months with another that aged 3 years 3 months. William’s language development is analysed in terms of lexical, morphological, syntactic and pragmatic perspective. Meanwhile, Piaget’s Cognitive Theory is applied to account for the overall language development of the child.

 

Full report

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LT4227 First Language Acquisition

2016-2017

Early Words and Language Development of an English-Speaking Child

Student Teacher
Dr. CHAN, Yuet Hung Cecilia

In this project, two data files, nai28.txt and nai81.txt, extracted from the CHILDES database, were selected to investigate the language development of an English-speaking child named Naima. Her speech productions at the age of 1 year and 8 months old and 3 years and 3 months old were analysed and her language developmental patterns were discovered. The project is outlined as follows: (1) Analyses of Naima’s early words and the role of parents in language development; (2) Analyses of the child’s four aspects of language development, including lexical, morphological, syntactic and pragmatic development; (3) A theoretical explanation on the child’s language development.

 

Full report

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LT4235 Project

2016-2017

A phonetic study of the sound system of Taipung (Dapeng) dialect

Student Teacher
Dr. LEE, Wai Sum Vanti

This is the first phonetic study presenting experimental data on the sounds of Taipung, a dialect spoken in Dapeng Peninsula, Shenzhen, China. The acoustic data obtained reveal that the Taipung sound system has (i) 17 initial consonants [p ph t th k kh ts tsh f s h m n ŋ l w j], (ii) 6 final consonants [p t k m n ŋ], (iii) 2 syllabic nasals [m̩ ŋ̍], (iv) 6 vowels [i u o ɔ a ɐ]; (v) 9 diphthongs [iu ia io iɔ oi ɐi ɐu ai au], and (vi) 7 tones [55 33 22 21 25 5 3]. This study also discovers that Taipung bears striking similarities in the sound system to Cantonese and Hakka, and it has no observable historical relationship to Mandarin phonetically as claimed in the literature.

 

Full report

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LT4235 Project

2016-2017

Merger of the syllable-initial [n-] and [l-] in Hong Kong Cantonese

Student Teacher
Dr. LEE, Wai Sum Vanti

This is the first phonetic investigation of the merger of the syllable-initial [n-] and [l-] of Hong Kong Cantonese (HKC) in production and perception. An acoustic analysis and identification tests were carried out to obtain spectrographic and perceptual properties of [n-] and [l-] from native HKC speakers. It is discovered that the merger of the initial [n-] and [l-] in HKC has not yet completed. In production, [n-] is more often pronounced as [l-] than [l-] pronounced as [n-]. Perceptually, [n-] and [l-] are in general distinguishable. The findings in this study contribute to a fuller understanding of the roles of production and perception and their interrelationship in the merger of [n-] and [l-] in HKC.

 

Full report

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LT4241 Topics in Syntax

2016-2017

Interrogative Sentence Final Particles of Cantonese – aa4 and me1

Student Teacher
Dr. TSAI, Cheng Yu Edwin

Sentence Final Particles (SFP) play an important role in Chinese languages as they can modify the mood or even determine the meaning of a sentence. This paper aims to depict the linguistic features of two interrogative SFPs – aa4 and me1. Speakers would use aa4 when he/she believes that the proposition is true and seek confirmation. Me1 carries an additional meaning that the speaker’s belief contradicts the proposition of the question. By observing the distribution of aa4 and me1 in utterances used in daily speech, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic properties of the three particles will be investigated. The pattern of SFP clusters will also be addressed in this paper. This grammatical category is commonly found in Cantonese but rarely seen in Mandarin grammar. Yet, the order of the SFPs in a cluster are bounded by rules that will be discussed in this paper.

 

Full report

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LT4241 Topics in Syntax

2016-2017

Distribution differences of negation markers in Cantonese

Student Teacher
Dr. TSAI, Cheng Yu Edwin

The negation markers in Cantonese, namely ng4 唔, mou5 冇, mei6 未 and mai5 咪, are all interpreted as not in English, functioning to negate the meanings of phrases. Nevertheless, in Cantonese, these four markers differ in distributions. They, in most cases, are in complementary distribution in terms of syntax and semantics. For example, the meaning of the sentence may vary according to the marker used although they appear in seemingly identical sentence structure. This paper investigates the distributions of four negations in Cantonese and finds out the subtle differences among them. It is hypothesized that the variations can be accounted for the aspectual selection; therefore, this paper puts emphasis on how the negation markers are dissimilar to one another in view of situation aspect and viewpoint aspect.

 

Full report

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LT2204 Language and Mind

2015-2016

Word Association and Word Games

Students Teacher
Dr. CHAN, Yuet Hung Cecilia

In this project, a word association experiment that aimed at investigating sense relations between word stimuli and word responses given by participants was conducted. The sense relation most frequently appeared and the effects of parts of speech of word stimuli on the occurrences of different sense relations between stimuli and responses were discovered. The explanations for the findings of the experiment were given. Two word games were created by using the responses obtained from the experiment.

 

 

Youtube video

Full report

link to full report (4M)

LT2204 Language and Mind

2015-2016

Word Association and Word Games

Students Teacher
Dr. CHAN, Yuet Hung Cecilia

This project aims to investigate how words are stored in mental lexicon through a word association experiment. Sixty young adults were involved in the experiment. They were given 15 primes and required to produce the first word appeared in their mind. The collected data were then analysed through semantic networks. It is discovered that word categories have a great influence on the relationship between the primes and the words given by subjects. Subjects tend to retrieve words through attributive and taxonomic relations when the prime is a noun, but this does not hold when the prime is a verb. Language and culture also contribute to word storage in mental lexicon. Two word games are created based on the experimental results in order to help players activate their mental lexicons.

 

 

Full report

link to full report (1.7M)

LT3211 Semantics

2015-2016

Aspect verbal particles /zo2/ and /jyun4/ in Cantonese

Students Teacher
Dr. HARA, Yurie

In Cantonese, aspectual meanings are normally substantiated by the use of verbal particles. We focus on aspect particles which both state the completion of an action in Cantonese, namely /zo2/ and /jyun4/. Generally speaking, the particle /jyun4/ lexically means “finish”. When it is attached to a verb stem, it means “finish doing something” straightforwardly. The particle /zo2/ is grammatically similar to the “-ed” suffix in English. The meaning of the particle /jyun4/ is relatively more lexical while the meaning of the particle /zo2/ is more grammatical (Chor, 2004).

We conclude that /zo2/ and /jyun4/ are different when they are used in different circumstances. The choice of /zo2/ and /jyun4/ is dependent on the state of the preceding verb: /zo2/ is used to mark both completion and continuous state while /jyun4/ is only used to mark completion state. Last but not least, based on their presupposition in interrogative sentences, /jyun4/ carries presupposition in question while /zo2/ does not.

 

 

 

Slides

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LT3215 Pragmatics

2015-2016

Conversation Analysis: Korean Drama

Students Teacher
Prof GERNER, Matthias

This project was a team work of six students. Three students recorded a natural discussion about a Korean drama. Two discourse participants were familiar with the drama content; the third was not very familiar. The conversational goal of the first two participants two was to display their familiarity; the goal of the third participant was to gain a foothold in the discussion. All participants contributed to the conversation analysis in Cantonese. The students discovered the conversation strategies in terms of speech overlap, turn-taking techniques and silence. They correctly associated these strategies with the communicative goals of each discourse participant.

 

 

Youtube video

 

Full report

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LT4235 Project

2015-2016

Production of the English vowels in Cantonese and Japanese children

Student Teacher
Dr. LEE, Wai Sum Vanti

The project investigates the production of English vowels by Cantonese-speaking and Japanese-speaking children, male and female, of 6-7 years of age. A production experiment was conducted, involving collection of speech samples and acoustic analysis of formant frequencies (F1F2) of the English vowels /i ɪ ɛ æ u ʊ ɔ ʌ ɒ ɑ ɜ(ɝ)/ from the two groups of children. Errors in pronunciation of the vowel sounds are observed in the speech of both Cantonese and Japanese children. In general, Japanese children perform better than Cantonese children in producing the English vowels, which is assumed due to weak phonological awareness in Cantonese speakers. Cantonese children tend not to distinguish the English vowels /ɛ/ and /æ/ and also /ɔ/ and /ɒ/. Similar errors in English vowel production are reported in adult speech in the previous studies, suggesting that age is not an important factor in L2 acquisition of the English vowel sounds. This study has provided pedagogically useful information for teaching and learning of the vowel sounds of English.

 

LT3210 Electronic Publishing

2014-2015

Learning Chinese through Chinese Cuisine

Student Teacher
Dr. LEE, John Sie Yuen

We leveraged a small database of bilingual Chinese-English dish names, augmented with photos, to design a language learning website. On the website, users can search for dish names, translate a dish name from English to Chinese, do exercises to learn food-related vocabulary in Chinese, and assess his/her progress with a quiz.

LT4235 Project

2014-2015

An Acoustic Analysis of Mandarin Sibilants Produced by Cantonese Speakers

Student Teacher
Dr. LEE, Wai Sum Vanti

This study investigates the production of the three sets of sibilants in Mandarin, i.e. the denti-alveolar [ʦ, ʦʰ, s], post-alveolar (or retroflex) [tʂ, tʂʰ, ʂ], and alveolo-palatal [ʨ, ʨʰ, ɕ], produced by four university students, 2 male and 2 female, in Hong Kong whose native language is Cantonese, through acoustic analysis. Frequency values for the noise peak and noise range, which are two major acoustic properties for distinction among the sibilants in different place categories, were measured for the test sibilants produced by the subjects. In comparison of the data from a native speaker of Mandarin, some patterns of the sibilant production are generalized for the Cantonese subjects.

Generally speaking, the Cantonese subjects have not mastered the distinction of the three sets of Mandarin sibilants. The denti-alveolar sibilants [ʦ, ʦʰ, s] are most frequently mispronounced by the subjects; both denti-alveolar [ʦ, ʦʰ, s] and alveolo-palatal [ʨ, ʨʰ, ɕ] sibilants cannot be identified as one place category in most cases, which are not produced within a boundary of anyone of the three sets of sibilants and/or not consistently mixed up with other sibilant equivalents. The production of the retroflex [tʂ, tʂʰ, ʂ] is the best, and they can be clearly differentiated from the other two sets of sibilants. The patterns of errors in the production of Mandarin sibilants for the Cantonese subjects are similar to those for the Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese subjects reported in Chung and Si (2009). The findings of this study contributed to our deeper understanding towards the difficulties in the production of Mandarin sibilants of Cantonese learners, paving the way for Mandarin teaching or further investigation.

LT4239 Conversation Analysis

2014-2015

A Gaze is Worth a Thousand Words: Functions of Eye Gaze in Negotiation

Students Teacher
Dr. ZHANG, Wei

This project explores eye gaze in conversation. It is based on the students own video recording of natural conversation. The students' decision to work on this topic grew out of their own discovery of a feature which is salient in the recorded conversation. To explore the function of eye gaze, the students went beyond the course syllabus and conducted an independent study during which they learned the skill for analysing video data of natural conversation and discovered how language and body work together to achieve meaning in the multimodality of human social interaction.

 

Full report

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LT4242 Topics in Semantics

2015-2016

Conventional Implicature Analysis of Cantonese Mai6…lo1 Construction

Students Teacher
Dr. HARA, Yurie

We analyse the meaning induced by the Cantonese mai6…lo1 construction with regard to Potts’ view of conventional implicature (CI) and his logic of CI. In the project, we discover a sentence can be multidimensional and has more than one meaning. We learn that the mai6…lo1-inducing meaning possesses some properties which make it a CI and these properties can be manifested in the manner of formal semantics using the logic of CI.

 

Youtube video

Note: Text-to-speech function built in Mac OSX 10.11 was employed in narration production (reference link).

 

Full report

link to full report/paper

 

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Last updated: 11 September 2017