[PolyU Online Mini Lecture] Humans and our Language by Prof William S-Y. Wang

About 4 million years ago, our ancestors adopted an erect posture. This freed our hands to make increasingly powerful tools and instruments, which in turn stimulated our brain to grow at an unprecedented rate. That we could conquer our planet and probe deeply into galactic space is due to our ability to create systems of symbols, i.e., language, to help us think and to communicate with others. To supplement speech, we created writing and overcame the limitations of space and time; this enabled us to accumulate wisdom across the millennia and integrate insights and inventions from all over the world, leading to the complex and powerful civilizations we have today. Since language has been crucial in the evolution of our species, and continues to bring order to our lives today, there are many questions we would like to ask of this remarkable mental instrument. How did language emerge deep in prehistory?   How do infants acquire language, and adults learn foreign languages? How does the brain conduct language across our lifespan? How does language get impaired under diverse conditions, and how best to intervene and repair?   These questions are important and interesting. We need to harness the expertise from many disciplines as well as the latest technology to answer them.


Speaker: Prof William S-Y. Wang

  • Chair Professor of Language and Cognitive Sciences at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University;
  • Academician of Academia Sinica in Taiwan; Professor Emeritus of the University of California at Berkeley;
  • Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from University of Chicago; Honorary Professor at Peking University.


Date: 1 May 2021 (Saturday)

Time: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Venue: Online via Zoom

Language: Mandarin Chinese


Registration: https://www.polyu.edu.hk/pfs/index.php/569494


2021 PolyU Online Mini Lecture: https://www.polyu.edu.hk/en/geo/news-and-events/events/2021/4/20210403_20210522_jee-lecture-series/