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  • The ELIN project - The Impact of Emotion Language on International Negotiation

One of the key areas in recent research on bilingualism is the investigation of emotional terms, their meaning, use, and cognitive underpinnings among bilingual speakers. I am involved in a project exploring this topic in collaboration with researchers at the University of Geneva. The aim of the project is to look into the significance and impact of emotional words such as anger, shame, pride and guilt in multilingual context.

See the following link for more information


  • Loanwords in bilingual context - “Borrowed and lost”: The story of Malay loanwords in Hokkien and Teochew.

This project traces the life cycle of Malay loanwords in Singapore, a linguistically heterogeneous community. Over the years, the variety of Hokkien and Teochew spoken in Singapore has diverged substantially from the variety spoken in Fujian Province where the early migrants came from. The main characteristic of Hokkien and Teochew in Singapore is the incorporation of a sizable amount of Malay words, adopted into these two Chinese languages, with a systematic allocation of tones to the Malay words. Some of these words have been so “nativised” that most Hokkien and Teochew speakers today are unaware of their origins. This study focuses on the adoption of Malay loanwords in Hokkien and Teochew and tracks the typology and semantic fields of the words borrowed. It also examines the motivations behind the adoption and the eventual loss of some of these loanwords.

Collaborator: Tan Ying Ying (Division of Linguistics and Multilingual Studies)


  • DIHA - Bridging tangible and intangible heritage

Intangible heritage has often been described as a critical force behind cultural diversity and the fragility of intangible heritage has become one of the priorities of international concern. In the event of cultural obsolescence, language is often one of the most ‘perishable’ links to our heritage and the loss is often gradual and insidious. This often takes place without any visible or concrete traces within the community. This is contrasted with the destruction or the degeneration of tangible heritage, which is visible and attracts more public attention and awareness.

DIHA website


  • Language Attitudes in Multilingual Contexts

Language attitudes play a significant role in shaping language use resulting in either maintenance or loss over a period of time. Language attitudes also shape the development or emergence of new varieties such as Singapore English. This project explores how language attitudes impact on the relative use and status of the various languages spoken in multilingual Singapore. With the grant ACRF Tier 1 grant, my colleagues and I are investigating the role language attitudes play in 3 different settings.
a) Language attitudes and patterns of accommodation
b) Language attitudes in the discourse of language identity
c) Language attitudes and intercultural perception

Collaborators: Francesco Cavallaro (PI) and Tan Ying Ying (Co-PI)


  • The semantics and change of numeral classifying systems

I continue to be interested in studies on numeral classifiers. Currently, I am running an experiment on classifier cognition, classifier use and change in monolinguals and bilinguals in Mandarin Chinese, Hokkien and Malay.


  • Code-switching in Singaporean Mandarin-English Bilinguals

The focus of this project is to analyse and describe the dynamics governing both intra and intersentential code-switching. The project is in the data collection phase.


  • The construction/representation of ‘family’ in public and private discourses around the world.

This project is part of an international network of research initiated by Joanne Winters and Anne Pauwels. (SOAS).


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