International Symposium on Chinese Language in the Maritime Silk Road Faculty of Arts

The T. T. Ng Chinese Language Research Centre at the Institute of Chinese Studies and the Department of Chinese Language and Literature of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) have jointly organized the ‘Maritime Silk Road Suite’, a series of academic activities focusing on the linguistic properties of Chinese spoken in countries and areas along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, from 27 March to 30 April. A theme-based book exhibition is now being held in the University Library, which mainly exhibits the acquisitions related to research into overseas Chinese and Chinese dialects of the regions along the Maritime Silk Road, and the teaching and learning of Chinese for non-Chinese speaking students in Hong Kong. It will last till 30 April, and all members of the public are welcome.



As a prelude to the Suite, three lectures on ‘Voices of the Maritime Silk Road’ were held on 27 March, 3 April & 5 April, at the CUHK University Bookstore Activity Room, which aimed to inform members of CUHK and the public about the cultures along the Maritime Silk Road and the pathway of learning Chinese for non-native Chinese speakers.

The first lecture was presented by Prof. Grace Mak of CUHK Department of Chinese Language and Literature on ‘Movies, Education, and Cultures in Southeast Asia’, which introduced the participants to the film cultures in Singapore and Malaysia, as well as the relationship between Hong Kong films and the films from the Nanyang (South Seas) region. Using a few selected clips from a 2002 Singaporean comedy movie I Not Stupid as an example, Professor Mak facilitated the participants’ understanding of Singaporean society and culture, which are showcased by the film’s characters and their daily lives.

The second lecture ‘A Dialogue between Two Non-native Speakers’ was chaired by Prof. Tang Sze Wing from CUHK Department of Chinese Language and Literature and joined by Ven. Jessadah and Ms. Kanyapach Chaidach. The two speakers are both from Thailand and have been attending Mandarin and Cantonese courses in the Yale-China Chinese Language Centre at CUHK. While the former hopes to know more about Chinese culture through the learning of the Chinese language, the latter focuses more on the practical function of the language in order to enable better communication. For the two non-native speakers, the difficulty of learning Chinese lies in the writing of Chinese characters; also, they reckoned Cantonese is more difficult than Mandarin due to the many variations in tones. The elixir for these learning difficulties is always to read, listen, speak, and practice more.

The third lecture was ‘Glimpses of Singapore Chinese Culture’ given by Prof. Lian-Hee Wee, who teaches at the Department of English Language and Literature, Hong Kong Baptist University. Professor Wee grew up in Singapore, where he observed and experienced the vanishing of the Chinese community’s culture and its own development within Singapore's multicultural environment. During the lecture, Professor Wee played a melody called Huanpei (jade ornament), a small etude for the Guqin, hand copied from the Jun Lu music manuscript collection in Singapore. This musical piece is, however, lost to Singapore and thus is an example of cultural loss. On the other hand, the Chinese language (including the Chinese dialects) and Chinese popular music have been developing their one-of-a-kind characteristics in Singapore. Professor Wee talked about the attitude of Singapore’s Chinese community towards Chinese and Western cultures, and how the Belt and Road has influenced the culture of the Chinese groups there.

A brief report of the closing ceremony of the Symposium has been posted on 語言學冰室 by Professor Tang Sze Wing, the WeChat platform operated by CLRC. "

‘The International Symposium on Chinese in the Maritime Silk Road’ was one highlight among the many academic activities of the ‘Maritime Silk Road Suite’ to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Institute of Chinese Studies and the 60th Anniversary of the United College of CUHK. The Symposium held on 7-8 April was the first international linguistics activity to examine the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road from the unique perspective of the Belt and Road Initiative, and brought together more than a hundred scholars coming from around the world to investigate the linguistic properties of Chinese spoken in the countries and areas along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

Through the event, participants shared their knowledge and research on the Chinese language overseas and various fields of Chinese linguistics, especially covering topics on phonology, lexicology, syntax, sociolinguistics, language teaching, as well as languages and cultures. It also covered the Chinese teaching and learning for non-Chinese speaking students in Hong Kong.

A multiplicity of invited speakers from the relevant countries and regions addressed the Symposium, including Prof. Daryoosh Akbarzadeh (Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Organization, Iran), Prof. Kaushal Kishore Chandel (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India), Prof. Henning Klöter (Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany), Prof. Hoang Anh Nguyen (University of Languages and International Studies of Vietnam National University), Prof. Kingkarn Thepkanjana (Chulalongkung University, Thailand), Prof. Cheng Hai Chew (National University of Singapore), and Prof. Benjamin T’sou (City University of Hong Kong) (read out by the co-author Prof. Andy Chin).

The ‘Maritime Silk Road Suite’ is co-organized by CUHK Global China Research Programme, CUHK Library, and The Commercial Press (H.K.) Ltd.; and sponsored by the Faculty of Arts, the United College, the New Asia College at CUHK and the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong. For details, please visit:


(Source of Information: Communications and Public Relations Office, the CUHK)







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