Previous Events 2014

Category Date Participant Title Venue
Seminar 13 Jan Prof David Wible Language models as if people matter CityU
Seminar 12 Feb Prof Sue Wright The Map, the group and language ideology CityU
Conference 16-18 Aug Journal of Foreign Languages in China; Hong Kong Bilingual Learning and Translation Studies Association; HCLS 2014 International Conference on Translation Education CityU
Symposium 10-11 Nov Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou; University of Science and Technology, Beijing; HCLS Journal of World Languages: 2nd Symposium SYSU

Professor David Wible (National Central University, Taiwan)

Language models as if people matter

Date : 13 January 2014
Time : 11:00am -- 12:30pm
Venue : B7603, 7/F Lift 3, Blue Zone, Academic 1, City University of Hong Kong


A convergence of factors is creating ever wider access to ever more massive amounts of digital language data that can feed the construction of language models. What these machine-readable models are good for, however, depends not only on how big they are but on how they are structured as well. Design of the structure can affect not simply what sorts of knowledge these models embed but how transparent that knowledge is to people who might benefit from it (corpus linguists and lexicographers but also learners and teachers, for example).

In this talk I illustrate some new possibilities that emerge when a novel structure based on some rather old but powerful concepts is implemented in a computational language model. The model, called StringNet (, incorporates and cross-indexes the syntagmatic and paradigmatic dimensions of relations that words contract with each other in their distributions attested in corpora. English StringNet is a massive network of over 2 billion multiword patterns connected to each other in a navigable web. I illustrate some of the linguistic phenomena which become susceptible to discovery and investigation under this sort of knowledge structure, particularly its capacity to capture "partially productive lexico-grammatical patterns" (or grammatical constructions) (Kay 1997) that have proven "a pain in the neck" for computational linguists (Sag et al 2002), not to mention for language learners and teachers. I also show how StringNet instantiates a new sort of thesaurus using the distributional notion of lexical semantics (Harris 1954), which assumes we know the meaning of words largely by the accumulated contexts of their use (Wittgenstein 1953). We show how these contexts are rendered open to exploration within their network of interrelations, suggesting new possibilities for supporting linguistic research as well as contextually grounded language learning and teaching. A beta version of Chinese StringNet will be presented briefly as well if time permits.


Professor David Wible is Professor, Graduate Institute of Learning and Instruction, National Central University (NCU) in Taiwan. He is currently also a visiting fellow at the National Science Council's Research Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at National Taiwan University. He has served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Director of the Language Center at NCU.

Professor Sue Wright (University of Portsmouth, UK)

The Map, the group and language ideology

Date : 12 February 2014
Time : 4:30pm -- 6pm
Venue : B7603, 7/F Lift 3, Blue Zone, Academic 1, City University of Hong Kong


This paper chronicles the history of map-making, showing how the way maps develop is in tandem with the development of patterns of group identity and language use. My question is whether ways of conceptualising the physical world feed into language ideology, that set of beliefs, values and attitudes drawn from our sociopolitical environment, which directs, constrains and moulds our language behaviour. Benedict Anderson (1991) noted the parallel development of mapping, identity and language practices in nation building. My argument here is that it is also possible to see this association in the medieval world and that there are some indicators that such co-occurrence is discernible in map-making, identity formation and language practices in postnational settings. As ever in the social sciences it would be inappropriate to claim clear cause and effect. However, it is possible to demonstrate that changes in world view co-occur with changes in language behaviour. It may, therefore, be legitimate to hypothesise that the view of ourselves that maps give us and the identities we assume as part of groups thus constructed play some part in the choice of languages we willingly acquire and speak.


Professor Sue Wright has been Professor of Language and Politics at the University of Portsmouth since 2006 and was Director of the Centre for European and International Studies Research 2008-9. Her slightly unusual professorial title stems from her research in language policy from the 1980s onwards. Very early on it became clear to her that this has to be interdisciplinary work and that linguists who want to examine subjects such as the role of language in nation building, the problems associated with language rights for minority groups and issues of communication in globalisation need a clear understanding of the political contexts. Her field work has covered minority language issues in the south of France, problems of communication in the European parliament and transnational communication on the Internet. Her theoretical work has addressed language issues in local, national, supranational and international settings.

Since retiring from full time work in 2011 she has continued to teach courses on language and identity on MA and UG courses and mentor research at University of Portsmouth. She spent a semester as visiting professor at the University of Jyvaskyla in 2012.

2014 International Conference on Translation Education

Date : 16-17 August 2014 (Saturday and Sunday)
Venue : City University of Hong Kong

The International Conference on Translation Education, with its 2014 theme of Computer-Aided Teaching of Translation: Theory, Practice and New Technologies, provides a unique forum for observing this paradigm development in language and translation pedagogy and reflecting on its rationale, applicability and feasibility, among other concerns. It will bring together translation educators and practitioners, language experts, language programme designers, software developers, publishers and translation and education service providers for a 2-day discussion about 1) the significance of computer-aided, corpus-based modes of teaching for translation studies and translation pedagogy; 2) relations between design, construction and implementation of computer-aided teaching programmes and their pedagogical efficiency in both classroom and online teaching of translation and interpreting; and 3) new trends in the development of computer-aided, corpus-supported approaches to translation studies and translator/interpreter-training. Apart from a range of parallel sessions, the Conference will include a special session of hands-on technology workshop on computer-aided online teaching of English and Chinese translation.

Visit our conference official website for details

Journal of World Languages: The Second Editorial Meeting and Symposium

Date : 9-12 November 2014
Venue : Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China

The Journal of World Languages explores the linguistic, communicative and socio-cultural implications of the global spread of major languages and the impact this is having on the world's linguistic mapping. Recognizing that the phenomenon of becoming a world language encompasses a growing number of languages with significant implications for the development of these languages, the Journal of World Languages encourages a comparative approach to the study of the roles of education, the media, the economy, etc. in contributing to the growth of a world language. It is a cross-disciplinary journal whose coverage of the effects of globalization on languages extends coverage to all world languages.

Visit our journal official website for details