Department of English @ Hong Kong Baptist University



HKBU ENG Research Workshop SeriesThe Department of English Research Workshop Series is a platform for discussing research that is at any stage of planning or implementation. Presenters will describe some research that they have been working on for some time, have just started working on, or are thinking about working on in the future. Attendees will ask questions and try to brainstorm ideas in an attempt to help the presenter fine tune his/her methodology, research questions, or anything else that attendees may think of.

The two aims of this research workshop series are: 1) for presenters to share their research processes, approaches, and methods so that attendees can all get ideas and learn from others’ research experiences; 2) for presenters to get ideas from attendees’ questions and suggestions, so that they can refine and improve their research methods. It is hoped that attendees, both students and colleagues, will learn some new things about the research process, and that they will then adopt whatever they like, e.g., a particular presenter’s approach to coming up with new ideas, a way of formulating research questions, a reason for choosing a particular methodology, etc.

All students and faculty are welcome and encouraged to attend. No registration is required. Do not worry about asking questions or offering advice. It is perfectly acceptable to just show up, observe, and learn. But you may surprise yourself—you might actually think of some good advice for the presenter! And it would be a shame for presenters to miss that opportunity, so please do come.

CantoneseSpeaker: John C. Wakefield
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Date: Monday 25 September 2017 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: English Loanwords in Cantonese: How Their Meanings Have Changed

In this seminar John C. Wakefield will describe some research that he has begun, and which he plans to expand on. He will then solicit suggestions for how to improve his methodology. This research relates to a recently written paper that describes the semantic change of six English loanwords in Cantonese: sot1 “short”; ku1 “cool”; hep1pi2 “happy”; ang1kou4 “uncle”;  haai1 “high”; on1si2 “ounce”.

Jason S PolleySpeaker: Jason S. Polley
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Date: Monday 16 October 2017 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: The Burmese Way and the High Way; Or, A Beer a Beer my Freedom for a Beer—A memoir of an aborted deportation

In the spirit of creative criticism and the blending or dissolution of classical genre paradigms—see, for instance, Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas (1933), Faulkner’s Requiem for a Nun (1953), Nabokov’s Pale Fire (1962), Hunter S Thompson’s Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas (1971), Hayden White’s “The Historical Text as Literary Artifact” (1974), Frey’s A Million Little Pieces (2003), Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2001), and Affleck’s I’m Still Here (2010)—this seminar aims to investigate the means by which I should produce and disseminate the tentatively titled text-in-process named just before the beginning of this sentence. That first sentence exposed my strategies to all culture freaks and criticism geeks. It, that first sentence, encoded and/or included the following key words, some or all of which I hope to address in this interactive—Socratic rather than pontific—seminar. 

Robert FuchsSpeaker: Robert Fuchs
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Date: Monday 6 November 2017 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: A Corpus-based Study on False Friends in Advanced Learner English: Implications for Second Language Pedagogy

This study focuses on the erroneous use of false friends (words that look alike but differ in meaning) in the spoken and written academic learner English of speakers of five different first languages (Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish), relying on the International Corpus of Learner English, version 2 (ICLEv2) and the Louvain International Database of Spoken English Interlanguage (LINDSEI). Results indicate that only certain false friends are often used inaccurately, but that word frequency is a poor predictor of inaccurate use. Thus, the analysis explores other factors such as word class and concreteness in order to explain how likely learners are to commit false friends-related errors. Based on these results, recommendations for second language pedagogy will be made.

Given that this talk is part of a research seminar, I would welcome comments from the audience on the following questions (as well as others): 1) What other factors could explain why certain false friends are more likely to cause errors than others? 2) Could frequency in a learner’s first language be an important factor? If so, what comparable corpus or corpora of the five languages exist from which word frequency measures can be derived?


Also featuringLeonard Neidorf @ HKBU.
The Style of Beowulf and the Conversion to Christianity:

A Study in Historical Aesthetics
Date & Time: Wednesday 6 December 2017; 4:30 {facebook registration}
Speaker: Leonard Neidorf
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Abstract This paper reconsiders the historical plausibility of Fred C. Robinson’s argument for the use of an “appositive style” in Beowulf. The poet, in Robinson’s view, contrasts paganism and Christianity by placing their representative elements into a state of apposition, which enables the audience to perceive both the admirable and regrettable aspects of the pagan past without passing explicit judgment upon it. Several critics have denounced Robinson’s interpretation as anachronistic and implausible, but this paper contends that its credibility is increased in the light of a hitherto unrecognised historical analogue. A letter written by Daniel, Bishop of Winchester, about methods for converting pagan Germanic peoples is shown here to recommend rhetorical strategies that distinctly resemble the appositive style of Beowulf. The composition of Beowulf is consequently situated in a milieu close to the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons, in which an aesthetic of pagan and Christian apposition evidently prevailed.



Speaker: Lian-Hee Wee
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Date: Monday 22 January 2018 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: A Digital Humanities Experience of the Hong Kong Kitchen Shorthand

The Kitchen Shorthand (KS) has amused and bemused many Hong Kongers, and has found its way sometimes to pages in books on Hong Kong nostalgia. This cryptic writing (please see image here: ) shows clear resemblances to Chinese orthography upon which the KS is based.
KS .
The KS is quite productive and can adapt to novel usage, thus easily applicable for the millions of combinatory possibilities and minor adjustments to specific order. Basic principles are easy to discern, although an algorithm to generate them to Turing machine standard is nowhere in the horizon.

Principles of KS formation (Cheung & Wee 2017)
a. ______ Semantic Salience
Preserve only the characters that are needed to identify the item.
b. ______ Rhyme is Reason
Replace characters that require many strokes to write with characters that sound similar and require fewer
strokes to write.
c. ______ Extraction
Extract distinctive grapheme from chosen Chinese character.
d. ______ Diverse source
Use symbols from any common source as alternative where possible
e. ______ Spatial usage and diacritics
Designate space for specific functions.

While it would be exciting to figure out how, without high levels of literacy, the cognitive system of the Hong Kong waiter commands the KS, this workshop’s goal is simpler: How can I create a digital archive/corpus for the KS so that the user will experience, as a real customer would, how the graphemes are creatively concatenated by our intrepid waiter?
jan4dei6Speaker: Winnie Chor Oi Wan
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Date: Monday 29 January 2018 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: From non-subjective to (inter)subjective: the evolution of jan4dei6人哋 into a first person singular pronoun

With data ranging from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, this study examines the development of the Cantonese pronoun jan4dei6 and explores how it has evolved to become a first person singular pronoun in the subjective domain. Originally a third person non-specific general noun meaning ‘other people’, jan4dei6 has developed into a third person plural pronoun, used deictically to refer to a plural antecedent which has been mentioned earlier in the prior discourse. In suitable contexts, jan4dei6 can also be used to refer to a non-specific nominal which has not been mentioned, or is even not known to either the speaker or the hearer, or both. An even more interesting observation is that jan4dei6 can be used to refer to a third person (singular), the second person (i.e. the hearer), as well as the first person (i.e. the speaker). Based on the diachronic data, this study answers the question as to how jan4dei6, originally a third person plural general noun and non-specific in nature, can acquire a subjective function and be used as a first person singular pronoun which is specific in nature. Other features of jan4dei6 are also explored in this study, including the syntactic positions that license the occurrence of jan4dei6, as well as how it can be used to express the speaker’s negative evaluative stance towards the potential referent.

{Click here to learn more about the workshop and the speaker.}

Date: Monday 12 February 2018 {facebook registration}
TOPIC: Cosmopolitan Dialectics and the World-Historical Imagination

Studies on cosmopolitanism have long had to deal with its innate contradictions: its cleaving towards both universal and particular forms; its problematic relationship with the nation-state and its many antecedents; its fluctuation between collective and individual memory as markers of identity and belonging. Historically, the progressive agenda of many cosmopolitan projects have also followed what Walter Mignolo called ‘global designs’, those top-down directives that have created and ordered the world-system under the respective frames of coloniality, modernity and neoliberal capital. Given the dialectical twists and turns of cosmopolitan thinking today, how might these contradictions acquire critical focus through the medium of literature, and in particular, the globally-conscious Anglophone novel, which attempts to map and interrogate these capitalist forces across planetary space-time? While attempts to link the historical imaginary of these world-systems back to the cosmopolitan imagination has begun to be theorized in, for example, David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, I argue that they can also be read in select millennial fictions by Ian McEwan, Jeanette Winterson, Don DeLillo and Jonathan Safran Foer. Taking my cue from Mignolo’s ground-breaking treatise on critical cosmopolitanism, I read the world-historical frame set up in these writers’ novels as an ongoing yet critically interpretative process, one that reflects the problematic dialectical nature of cosmopolitanism on the one hand, yet also signals in these writers’ works a transition to more historically-inflected modes of global-local writing, along with all their attendant challenges and opportunities, on the other.

/// Speaker: Magdalen Ki Wing Chi ///
Date: Monday 16 April 2018 {fb}
/// Speaker: Stuart C. F. Christie ///
Date: Monday 23 April 2018 {fb}


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