OUTREACH PROJECTS

Being able to engage in "Knowledge Exchange" is one of the highlights of being an academic. I enjoy talking about linguistics at schools and other more 'general' events, but I have two main outreach projects, funded by grants totaling ~$200k (HKD). My project on the Hong Kong minority dialects is largely salvage documentary work, but there is an important parable about the finality of language loss that can be given alongside many good reasons to preserve languages to the general public, for which we are preparing a few short videos. The goal is to help the general public appreciate the minority communities as integral for shaping HK into what it is today, simultaneously celebrating their unique heritage without detracting from their contemporary identity as a ‘Hong Konger’, perhaps the only way for community members to embrace the past. More information is online at dialects.hku.hk

 

My other KE project is with the Nubri people, whose language is facing greater endangerment as the transmission to future generations is on the line. Acting now is critical for Nubri’s future. To this end, I organized orthography workshops in Nubri to discuss possible writing systems, knowing that a writing system is only successful if the community is on board. In a remote region of subsistence farmers, villages several days’ apart, it is hard to gather speakers of different dialects for discussions, so I facilitated a gathering by organizing a series of eye clinics with the cooperation of the prestigious Tilganga Institute of Ophthalmology in Kathmandu. We helicoptered in the doctors who held a series of eye clinics and one cataract clinic that brought people from around the valley. ~500 villagers (1/4 of the population) were treated at the clinics, and 64 cataracts were successfully removed. Aside from the obvious short-term impact, this project will have a much longer-term impact with the introduction of a writing system and other efforts to contribute to language retention and improved literacy. More information about Nubri (the people, the place and the language) as well as the Eye Clinic is online at www.linguistics.hku.hk/nubri 

I am also working on Bumthang language, spoken in Bhutan, including documentary efforts. More information about that project can be found online at www.linguistics.hku.hk/bumthang

 

Various activities include:

  

2019    Press coverage of the Nubri Eye Clinic, through a press release at HKU https://www.hku.hk/press/press-releases/detail/19987.html picked up by seven local papers (Ming Pao, Oriental Daily, Lion Rock Daily, HKEJ, on.cc, Ming Sheng Bao, Line Today). Articles following three subsequent interviews appeared in the South China Morning Post, Sing Tao Daily, and HK Economic Journal as well as the HKU Annual Review and SBS (Nepali) in Australia.

2019    A vision for the future of Nubri: Photo exhibition about the KE project. Organized by the Faculty of Arts and held at HKU. 22/7-2/8 https://www.linguistics.hku.hk/nubri/exhibition-of-photos-from-eye-clinic/

2019    Medicinal practices in Nubri: Cataract clinic and orthography focus groups in Nubri Valley, Nepal. 21-31 May 2019 https://www.linguistics.hku.hk/nubri/eye-clinic

2019    Website for the Nubri Language Documentation project. https://www.linguistics.hku.hk/nubri

2019    Website for the Bumthang language project. https://www.linguistics.hku.hk/bumthang

2018    The status of minority dialects in Hong Kong. The University of Chicago Centre in Hong Kong. 23 May 2018. Invited lecture. 

2018    Creating a web site about HK’s dialects: http://dialects.hku.hk

2016    Hong Kong’s disappearing dialects: The language of the Fisherfolk

Public talks/displays/discussion given during the Living on the water exhibition co-organized with the Department of Architecture about aspects of the Fisherfolk community. Stanley Community Centre, HK. 27 & 28 March 2016

2016    Hong Kong’s changing linguistic landscape. Invited talk. TEDx Youth@THS, 29/1/16

2016    Losing your voice: HK’s disappearing dialects Creating a short video on the endangered status of local minority dialects (est. completion December 2019)

2015    Invited talk at the HKU UG Students’ Linguistics Society Annual High Table Dinner

2014    Invited talk at the HKU UG Students’ Linguistics Society Inaugural Ceremony