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Picture of Lam, Marvin (Dr)
Lam, Marvin (Dr)
Assistant Professor

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Linguistics
Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics, City University of Hong Kong
Dissertation title: Socio-semiotic Distance and its Measurement in Narrative Discourse (2010)

Room No.FG329
Tel2766 7509
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Research Overview

The focus of my research is to examine language and communication issues in institutional settings to enhance productivity, efficiency, safety, etc. Research environments that I work with range from the business sector, such as telephonic service encounters, to public institutions like hospital wards and emergency departments. Currently I am working on several projects in collaboration with public hospitals in Hong Kong to enhance patients’ adherence to treatment and their level of satisfaction, and the continuity of care from acute to primary settings.

The theoretical underpinning of my research is Systemic Functional Linguistics, a socio-semiotic account of language and meaning-making that connects the environment of communication with actual language use. I am particularly interested in tracking the development of interpersonal distance resulted from interactions between people. And I am devoted to translational research, i.e. research that have impact on the practice of practitioners. This is achieved by surveying practitioners’ perceptions and believes, complemented with structured observation of their actual behaviour with detailed linguistic analysis of their communication.

Teaching Areas

Systemic Functional Linguistics
Grammar and Text/Discourse
Discourse Analysis
English for Academic Purposes
English in Professional Contexts
Research Methodologies
Media Communication
Intercultural Communication
World Englishes

Research Interests

Systemic Functional Linguistics
Discourse Analysis
Interpersonal Communication
Language Typology
Language Teaching and Language across the Curriculum

Journal Editiorship

2013 -   Associate Editor, Linguistics and the Human Sciences (Equinox)

Major Publications

  1. Lam, Marvin & Webster, Jonathan J. (2009) ‘The lexicogrammatical reflection of interpersonal relationship in conversation’, Discourse Studies, 11(1): 37-58.
  2. Matthiessen, Christian M.I.M., Teruya, Kazuhiro & Lam, Marvin (2010) Key terms in systemic functional linguistics. London & New York: Continuum.
  3. Forey, Gail & Lam, Marvin (2012) ‘Applying Systemic Functional Linguistics in the workplace: understanding quality assurance measures and discourse’, in the Impact of Systemic Functional Linguistics on Professional Discourse, Special Focus Issue of Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, 9 (1):61-81.
  4. Lam, Marvin & Yu, Carol (2013) ‘English and Cantonese in a bilingual call centre in Hong Kong’, World Englishes, 32 (4): 521-535.
  5. Lam, Marvin (2015) ‘Interfacing field with tenor: Hasan’s notion of personal distance’, in Bowcher, Wendy & Liang, Jennifer (eds.) Society in Language, Language in Society: Essays in Honour of Ruqaiya Hasan. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  6. Slade, Diana, Chandler, Eloise, Pun, Jack, Lam, Marvin, Matthiessen, C.M.I.M., Williams, Geoff, Espindola, Elaine, Veloso, Francisco, Tsui, KL, Tang, Simon, Tang, KS (2015) ‘Effective Clinician-Patient Communication in Hong Kong Accident & Emergency Departments’, Hong Kong Journal of Emergency Medicine, 22 (2): 69-83.
  7. Slade, Diana, Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen, Lock, Graham, Pun, Jack & Lam, Marvin (2016) ‘Patterns of interaction in doctor-patient communication and their impact on health outcomes’, in Lourdes Ortega, Andrea E. Tyler, Hae In Park & Mariko Uno (eds.) The Usage-based Study of Language Learning and Multilingualism. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

Other Publications

  1. Lam, Marvin & Webster, Jonathan J. (2007) ‘Text and context in the Da Vinci Code’, Barbara, Leila and Berber Sardinha, Tony (eds), Proceedings of the 33rd International Systemic Functional Congress. July 2006, PUCSP, São Paulo, Brazil.
  2. Lam, Marvin, Figueredo, Giacomo & Espindola, Elaine B. (2010) ‘A systemic functional contrastive analysis of interpersonal particles in Cantonese and Portuguese’, Proceedings of the 36th International Systemic Functional Congress Beijing. July 2009, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China.
  3. Lam, Marvin & Oichi, Ayako (2010) ‘A systemic functional study of particles in Japanese and Cantonese: an initial exploration. Proceedings of Japanese Association of Systemic Functional Linguistics, Volume 4, 2010: 41-58.
  4. Lam, Marvin (2012) ‘Rapprochement between linguistics and literary studies’, in Christina A. DeCoursey (ed.), Language Arts in Asia: Literature and Drama in English, Putonghua and Cantonese. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Research Grants

Investigating the communication of relationship-centeredness in healthcare for the enhancement of patients’ satisfaction and adherence to treatment. Early Career Scheme, Research Grants Council, HK SAR Government.

The Realisation and Manifestation of Relationship-centred Care in a Public Hospital Accident and Emergency Department in Hong Kong. Fund for Early Career Scheme Project Rated 3.5, Central Research Grant, PolyU.

A Linguistic Investigation on the Negotiation and Development of Interpersonal Distance and the Success of Psychotherapy Treatment. Dean’s Reserve, Faculty of Humanities, PolyU.

Short Story and Poems with Conventional Critical and Functional Linguistics Analysis. Departmental Research Committee Grant, ENGL, PolyU.

Invited Workshops, Plenary and Seminars

14 October 2013 Valparaíso, Chile
Functional Text Typology and its use in appliable research, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso

20 April 2012 Boston, USA
Doctor-Patient Communication in Emergency Departments: Hong Kong and Australia, Harvard Medical School (with Diana Slade and Jack Pun)

23 April 2012 Indianapolis, USA
Doctor-Patient Communication in Emergency Departments: Hong Kong and Australia, Medical Humanities & Health Studies Seminar Series, co-sponsored by Medical Humanities-Health Studies Programme, the Indiana Centre for Intercultural Communication, and the Global Health Student Interest Group at Indiana University (with Diana Slade and Jack Pun)

12-16 December 2011 Xi’an, China & 12-16 March 2012, Hong Kong
Intensive Training Course for ESP Teachers at School of Highway Engineering, Chang’an University and Faculty of Humanities, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (with Gail Forey and Angela Tse)

July 2011 Guangzhou, China
Intensive course on genre-based pedagogy, Sun Yat-sen University (with Gail Forey and Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen)

June 2011 Hong Kong
Plenary for the First Conference on Applying (Putonghua /English) Language Arts, Department of English, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (with Francisco Veloso)

26-28 April 2010 Manila,
The Philippines
A national seminar-workshop for Filipino teachers of English at high school and college levels, De La Salle University: text analysis from an SFL perspective (with Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen)

17 September 2010 Hong Kong
‘Modelling and Measuring Interpersonal Distance’, Pearling Seminar, Department of Linguistics and Translation, City University of Hong Kong

Selected Conference Presentations

November 2015
Marvin Lam, ‘To be a good credit collector: Appliable Discourse Analysis in Workplace’, Text and Context Oita Text Forum Workshop 7, Oita University, Oita, Japan.

June 2014
Diana Slade, Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen, Marvin Lam, Jack Pun & Kazuhiro Teruya, ‘Exploring doctor-patient communication in high stress contexts: patient involvement in shared decision-making in a Hong Kong trilingual Emergency Department’, The Conference on Communication, Medicine and Ethics (COMET) 2014, Faculty of Communication Sciences, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland.
Diana Slade, Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen, Marvin Lam, Kazuhiro Teruya & Jack Pun, ‘Clinical communication in a bilingual accident and emergency department of Hong Kong’, Conference of the language of medicine: Science, Practice and Academia, Centro di Ricerca Sui Linguaggi Specialistici, Universita’ Degli Studi de Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy.

September 2012
Marvin Lam & Christina DeCoursey, ‘The integration of linguistic and literary analysis in the teaching and learning of literature and English’, 2nd Conference on Applying (Putonghua/English) Language Arts, Department of English, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

July 2012
Marvin Lam & Angela Tse, ‘Teaching bridge building and the use of abstract meaning’, in the colloquium ‘From Concrete to abstraction: Hybridity in Meaning Making’, 23rd European Systemic Functional Linguistics Conference and Workshop, University of Bologna, Bertinoro, Italy.
Marvin Lam & Diana Slade, ‘Patients’ registerial biographies in a hospital emergency department’, in the colloquium ‘Registerial cartography in different contexts of research’, 23rd European Systemic Functional Linguistics Conference and Workshop, University of Bologna, Bertinoro, Italy.

May 2012
Diana Slade, Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen, Jack Pun, Marvin Lam, Elaine Espindola, Francisco Veloso, Andy Fung, Geoff Williams, Kam Shing Tang, Cheuk Ming Oliver Chan, Simon Tang & Kwong Leung Tsui, ‘Emergency communication: communicating in A&Es’, Hospital Authority Convention, Hong Kong.

September 2011
Gail Forey, Marvin Lam, Francis Low & Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen, ‘Applying Systemic Functional Linguistics in the workplace: understanding quality assurance measures’, the 44th Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics: the Impact of Applied Linguistics, University of the West of England, Bristol, England.

August 2011
Caroline Coffin, Gail Forey, Marvin Lam, Francis Low & Christian M.I.M. Matthiessen, ‘Key Learning Areas & Educational Genres in the Hong Kong Classroom’ the 16th World Congress of Applied Linguistics, Beijing Foreign Studies University, Beijing, China.