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Mission, Objectives and Strategic Areas of Development


  • We are committed to the scientific study of language as a window into the human mind.
  • We emphasize interdisciplinary research and training that draws on knowledge and methods from a wide range of related disciplines such as philosophy, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, engineering, and education, with the goal of nurturing scholarship and advancing knowledge of language, its structure, use and acquisition.
  • We cultivate students’ sensitivity towards bilingualism and multilingualism through an in-depth     understanding of the intricate relationship between language, culture and society.


  • To enable students to understand the fundamental nature of inquiry in the humanities, as language is interwoven with literatures and cultures, history and human civilization, music and fine art, philosophy and anthropology within and across different social and regional contexts;
  • To develop bilingualism and multilingualism, key to enhancing intercultural communication at the macro level while promoting an appreciation towards the nature of language acquisition in different settings and an understanding of linguistic and social issues that can be examined and addressed through interdisciplinary studies at the micro level;
  • To offer a window to appreciate the nature of the human mind, in particular, how language interacts with other cognitive domains and how language impairment can be diagnosed for intervention purposes;
  • To enable students to capture the fundamental beliefs about humanity in contemporary linguistics and discover how they manifest themselves in social and professional activities locally and internationally;  
  • To help students grasp and appreciate linguistic and cultural diversity, reflect on their own identity, develop a more open and risk-taking attitude (in the positive sense), and feel confident when dealing with people and issues in an international environment in the globalized world of the 21st century.

Strategic Areas of Development

The Department has identified five strategic areas of development:

  • Theoretical and Comparative Linguistics integrates linguistic theories with the study of Modern Languages with a focus on Chinese languages;
  • Language Acquisition encompasses first language acquisition, second language acquisition, third language acquisition, bilingual acquisition and sign language acquisition;
  • Bilingualism investigates the acquisition and processing of two or more languages from infancy to adulthood across the life span in alignment with the central mission of the University and supports the integration of linguistics and Modern Languages;  
  • Sign Linguistics encourages the extension of contemporary linguistic theories to cover languages in the visual modality;
  • Neuroscience of Language and Language Disorders, a newly launched area that investigates the relationship between language and the brain through examining typical and atypical development across the life span. This research programme ranges from investigations of the neurogenetics of language learning by capitalizing on the very large population of learners in our Modern Languages section, to identifications of the neurophysiological bases of language disorders such as dyslexia and autism.

These five areas represent the major new sub-disciplines in the field of Linguistics, having great potential for collaborative research and training with other disciplines such as Biomedical Sciences, Engineering, Psychology, Speech and Hearing Sciences, Education and Medicine.