Interesting Photos

On this page, I display certain images that have fascinated me by either appealing to my interests in languages and linguistics, or my hobbies like history/politics, music, literature and drama. 

Keith Tse

Human

Chinese Language

My native tongue, and one which I investigate the most these days. As is well-known, there are (broadly speaking) two orthographic systems in our language, namely a traditional script and a simplified script, the latter born from the former during the early period of reform in mainland China. The simplified script is the common writing system now, though the traditional script is still used in numerous important places like Hong Kong and Taiwan. Furthermore, the traditional script is used in all historical Chinese literature and is hence essential for those investigating Chinese historical linguistics. Here is the phrase 'Chinese language' in both scripts. It should be obvious which one is traditional and which simplified. 

Chinese Dialects

As explained, the Chinese language consists of thousands of dialects, all of which are idiosyncratic and may vary quite wildly. In Hong Kong, we use a particular southern dialect called Cantonese, which is extremely widespread and popular not only in the south of China but also among Chinese emigrant populations in the western world, namely North America and Canada. There is a lot of Cantonese literature which shows the amount of local pride that some Cantonese-speakers have. Below are a few (and only a few): 

Chinese Dialects (continued) 

I am biased in my dialectal affiliations, I am afraid to say, since I am from Hong Kong and I am a native speaker of Cantonese. However, let me re-assert that the idea that Chinese is bidialectal (Mandarin/Cantonese) is a common misconception, since our linguistic situation is far more complex than that. As a way of remedying my native bias towards Cantonese, let me here sledge-hammer you with a long list of dialectal vocabulary in the modern Wu dialects, another major dialect familiy in China, just to show my neutrality (though strictly speaking, I do have affiliations with Wu since my mother's side of the family is from Shanghai, a major branch in the Wu family, and I have learnt a bit of Shanghainese from them... I'll try to find more dialectal data in due course, which is very easy what with all the published manuals on Chinese dialects which attest to our wonderfully rich dialectal inventory): 

天龍八部
International Conference on Ancient Chinese Grammar at the University of Humboldt, Berlin, Germany, July 2016

In Summer 2016, I attended a very big international conference on Chinese historical linguistics in Berlin where I met some really big names in our field. This photo pretty much contains all the major living figures in Chinese historical linguistics, and I am very proud to be in it. I mentioned before that it has been strange for me analysing my native language and applying theoretical analyses to it, since this is something that I do not usually do, but learning Classical and Medieval Chinese has been like learning a whole new foreign language for me, since the historical stages of Chinese are significantly different from Modern Chinese (yet not totally different, since there are some (many) strikingly similarities, which makes Modern Chinese an invaluable asset for learning and analyzing historical Chinese, though one still has to learn Classical and Medieval Chinese properly and thoroughly since one can easily assume too much and form 'false' connections between Ancient Chinese and Modern Chinese). It was a fun conference, and I look forward to the next one in the series in 2019 at the Chinese University of Hong Kong which I can easily reach from my home in less than an hour. Such is the size of Hong Kong. 

First Forum on Cantonese Linguistics (FoCaL-1), 31st May 2018

It was my honour to take part in the inaugural Forum on Cantonese Linguistics which took place at Chinese University of Hong Kong where I presented my then recent work on Chinese (Cantonese) clefts. Such a rewarding and educational experience!  

Theoretical Linguist

A beautiful logo accompanied by two amazing phrases. 語言學家 literally means 'linguist' in Chinese. I absolutely adore this image. This will be on my frame for the rest of my life. 

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