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Picture of Tay, Dennis (Dr)
Tay, Dennis (Dr)
Associate Professor

Associate Dean of Faculty of Humanities

BA(Hons) in English Language, National University of Singapore (2005)
MA in Language Studies, National University of Singapore (2009)
PhD in Linguistics, University of Otago, New Zealand (2011)
PgCert in Quantitative Analysis, Open University of Hong Kong (2017)

Room No.AG413
Tel3400 3654
EmailThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Research Overview

My research covers four overlapping areas: cognitive linguistics, metaphor theory, mental healthcare communication, and the statistical modeling of discourse processes and products. One example of how these areas converge is language use in psychological counselling, an important type of mental healthcare communication. This language is often full of metaphors, which according to cognitive linguistics can provide insights into how people conceptualize their psychological issues. Furthermore, there is fascinating variability across speakers, cultures, time, and so on, which needs to be understood using both statistical modelling and qualitative analysis. I often engage with mental healthcare researchers and practitioners to work out the practical implications of linguistic research.

I am currently focusing on two research strands: i) the relationship between metaphor use and psycho-physiological indicators of affect such as galvanic skin response, and ii) using ARIMA time series models to describe and forecast patterns in different discourse domains (e.g. counseling, newspapers, classrooms, and social media). I also have a secondary interest in language acquisition and pedagogical research, particularly the relevance and acquisition of quantitative literacy in humanities education. I am keen to collaborate on or supervise undergraduate/postgraduate research in any of the areas described above.

Teaching Areas

Research methods and design
Psycholinguistics and language acquisition

Research Interests

Cognitive linguistics
Healthcare communication
The language of psychotherapy
Statistical modeling of discourse



  1. Tay, D. (forthcoming). Time Series Analysis of Discourse. Method and Case Studies. London and New York: Routledge
  2. Tay, D. (2013). Metaphor in Psychotherapy. A Descriptive and Prescriptive Analysis. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Edited volumes

  1. Yamaguchi, M., Tay, D. & Blount, B. (2014). Towards an Integration of Language, Culture, and Cognition. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Journal Articles

  1. Tay, D. (2018). Metaphors of movement in psychotherapy talk. Journal of Pragmatics, 125, 1–12.
  2. Tay, D. (2017). Time series analysis of discourse. A case study of metaphor in psychotherapy sessions. Discourse Studies, 19(6), 694–710.
  3. Jin, Y., & Tay, D. (2017). Comparing doctor–elderly patient communication between traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine encounters: Data from China. Communication & Medicine, 14(2), 121–134.
  4. Tay, D. (2017)Exploring the metaphor-body-psychotherapy relationship. Metaphor & Symbol, 32(3), 178-191.
  5. Tay, D. (2017)Quantitative metaphor usage patterns in Chinese psychotherapy talk. Communication & Medicine, 14(1), 51-68.
  6. Tay, D. (2017). Metaphor construction in online motivational posters. Journal of Pragmatics112, 97–112.
  7. Tay, D. (2017). The Nuances of Metaphor Theory for Constructivist Psychotherapy. Journal of Constructivist Psychology30(2), 165–181.
  8. Tay, D. (2016)Metaphor and psychological transference. Metaphor & Symbol, 31(1)11–30.
  9. Tay, D. (2016). A variational approach to deliberate metaphors. Cognitive Linguistic Studies, 3(2), 278–299.
  10. Tay, D., & Huang, J. (2016). 隐喻在网络心理健康咨询中的应用. 外语研究, 160(6), 31–38.
  11. Tay, D. (2015). Metaphor in case study articles on Chinese university counseling service websites. Chinese Language and Discourse, 6(1), 28 – 56.
  12. Tay, D., & Jordan, J. (2015). Metaphor and the notion of control in trauma talk. Text & Talk, 35(4), 1–21.
  13. Tay, D. (2014). Bodily experience as both source and target of meaning making: Implications from metaphors in psychotherapy for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Cognitive Linguistic Studies, 1(1), 84–100.
  14. Tay, D. (2014). At the heart of cognition, communication, and language: The value of psychotherapy to metaphor study. Metaphor and the Social World, 4(1), 48-64.
  15. Tay, D. (2012). Applying the notion of metaphor types to enhance counseling protocols. Journal of Counseling & Development90(2), 142–149.
  16. Tay, D. (2011). Discourse markers as metaphor signalling devices in psychotherapeutic talk. Language & Communication31(4), 310–317.
  17. Tay, D. (2011). THERAPY IS A JOURNEY as a discourse metaphor. Discourse Studies13(1), 47–68.
  18. Tay, D. (2010). Revisiting metaphor types as discourse strategies: The case of psychotherapeutic discourse. Text & Talk30(4), 445–463.
  19. Tay, D. (2007). Investigating the universality of primary metaphor - A perspective from Buddhism. Linguagem em Discurso7(3), 453–485.


  1. Tay, D. (forthcoming). Language in mental health disorders. Oxford Bibliographies (Linguistics). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  2. Tay, D. (2017). Using metaphor in mental healthcare. In E. Semino & S. Demjen (Eds.). The Routledge Handbook of Metaphor and Language (pp. 371-385). London and New York: Routledge
  3. Tay, D. (2016). Finding the Middle Ground between Therapist-Centred and Client-Centred Metaphor Research in Psychotherapy. In M. O’Reilly & J. N. Lester (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Adult Mental Health (pp. 558–576). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  4. Tay, D. (2015). Words and neuro-psychological disorders. In J. R. Taylor (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of the Word (pp. 508–520). Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.
  5. Tay, D. (2015). 电子健康医疗服务的隐喻使用研究. In 高一虹 & 陈向一 (Eds.), 心理咨询与治疗的话语研究 (pp. 255–280). 南开大学出版社.
  6. Tay, D. (2015). Pesquisa aplicada à metáfora: tendências, questões, metodologicas e ferramentas de software. In A. G. Vieira, W. R. Silva, & M. L. de S. Góis (Eds.), Visibilizar A Linguística Aplicada: Abordagens Teóricas E Metodológicas (pp. 111–130). Pontes.
  7. Tay, D. (2014). Metaphor theory for counselling professionals. In J. Littlemore & J. R. Taylor (Eds.), Bloomsbury Companion to Cognitive Linguistics (pp. 352–367). London: Bloomsbury.
  8. Tay, D. (2014). Lakoff and the Theory of Conceptual Metaphor. In J. R. Taylor & J. Littlemore (Eds.), Bloomsbury Companion to Cognitive Linguistics (pp. 49–60). London: Bloomsbury.
  9. Tay, D. (2014). An analysis of metaphor hedging in psychotherapeutic talk. In M. Yamaguchi, D. Tay, & B. Blount (Eds.), Approaches to Language, Culture, and Cognition (pp. 251–267). Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.

Research Grants

External Research Grants

  1. 2019-2021. A multi-perspectival study of attitudes and responses towards metaphor use in the university counseling context. General Research Fund, Research Grants Council, HKSAR government
  2. 2015-2018. Metaphor in Hong Kong psychotherapy talk - description, comparison, and application. General Research Fund, Research Grants Council, HKSAR government

Internal Research Grants

  1. 2018-2020. A Mixed-methods Study of Prompting Strategies in Picture-based Counseling. Department of English Research Grant
  2. 2017-2019. Modeling Response Patterns to Metaphor in Discourse. Central Research Grant
  3. 2017-2019. A Time Series Approach to Interactional Discourse. Department of English Research Grant
  4. 2016-2018. Conscious and unconscious attitudes towards metaphor use in psychotherapy. Central Research Grant
  5. 2015-2017. The relationship between metaphor and psychological transference. Department of English Research Grant
  6. 2014-2017. Quantitative approaches to metaphor in psychotherapy talk. Central Research Grant
  7. 2014-2016. Metaphor and e-health: A case study of Chinese university counseling service websites.   Department of English Research Grant
  8. 2014-2016. Investigating attitudes towards group assessment and translating them into a learning resource. Faculty of Humanities Dean’s Reserve Grant for Learning and Teaching
  9. 2013-2015. Metaphor as a psychotherapeutic strategy: Towards a correspondence between units of metaphor activity and units of therapeutic activity.  Faculty of Humanities Dean’s Reserve Grant
  10. 2013-2015. An exploratory study of metaphor use in Hong Kong mental health practice. Department of English Research Grant

Journal Editorship

  • Academic Editor, PLOS ONE
  • Review Editor, Cognitive Linguistic Studies


  • 2016-7. Faculty Award for Excellent Performance in Teaching, Faculty of Humanities, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
  • 2015-6. Faculty Award for Excellent Performance in Research and Scholarly Activities, Faculty of Humanities, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
  • 2015. ‘Outstanding Finalist’ of Hong Kong Academy of Humanities First Book Prize
  • 2012. Early Career Research Paper Prize, International Association of Researching and Applying Metaphor (RaAM)