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The Prize

The Yuen Ren Chao Prize in Language Sciences (The Prize), organised by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), is an international award that honours scholars and researchers who have made distinguished contributions to language sciences. The prize is named after the late Professor Yuen Ren Chao (1892–1982) who is widely regarded as the Father of Modern Chinese Language Studies. Professor Chao was a distinguished linguist and talented humanistic scholar, poet, composer, translator and educator whose influences have impacted scholars in China, Asia and around the world. His significant academic contributions cover the total spectrum of language science inquiry, from highly technical discussions in linguistic theory to practical texts for language teaching. These contributions have left an indelible mark on humanities research and education in general.

The Organiser

The Faculty of Humanities at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University is the initiator and host of the Yuen Ren Chao Prize, with the generous consent of Professor Chao’s family. The Faculty aims to create synergies across language, history, culture, communication, and technology in education and research. The Faculty’s language science research encompasses a wide range of areas. With world-class scholars and a critical mass of researchers in the broader discipline, it has a strong focus on Chinese linguistics, English language communication, and bilingual language studies. Our scholars aspire to carry forward the legacy of Professor Chao in the pursuit of language science research and education. The establishment of the Yuen Ren Chao Prize further reinforces the Faculty’s commitment to upholding the PolyU motto, “To learn and to apply, for the benefit of mankind” (開物成務 勵學利民), contributing to knowledge discovery, knowledge transfer, and social advancement.

About the Prize


  • To commemorate the legacy of Professor Yuen Ren Chao
  • To recognise distinguished contributions made by researchers in the field
  • To inspire future generations of scholars and students in language science research


Two awards will be given biennially, namely Lifetime Achievement Award and Early Career Contribution Award. The Prize will be presented by the President of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Consideration for the awards will be based on individuals’ contributions, regardless of their races, nationalities, genders and religious affiliations.

Both the Lifetime Achievement Award and Early Career Contribution Award can be Shared Awards. In the case of a Shared Award, all the requirements must be met by all awardees.

Only one award can be given for each category during each prize cycle. The Prize comes with cash awards of US$100,000* (for Lifetime Achievement) and US$50,000* (Early Career Contribution). The same award can be given to a recipient only once in his or her lifetime. The awardees will be recognised at a ceremony held by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which will also feature a distinguished lecture in the Faculty of Humanities.

*The Organiser reserves the rights to adjust the prize amount and its distribution to awardees depending on the specific circumstances at the time.

  • The nomination form should be completed in English.
  • A resume of the nominee in no more than 10 pages (A4 pages) should be submitted along with this nomination form.
  • Information beyond the tenth page will be treated only as supplementary material at the discretion of the Selection Committee.
  • The nomination form should be returned to the Selection Committee by email at no later than 30 November 2023 (11:59pm, GMT+8).
  • Successful nominations will be notified by email. If you have not received the acknowledgement by 15 December 2023, please contact the Faculty of Humanities through email ( or phone (+852 3400 8224).
  • The nomination form should be returned to the Selection Committee by email at no later than 30 November 2023 (11:59pm, GMT+8).
  • Please inform the Selection Committee by email if the attachment size exceeds the allowable limit (20 MB).

Download the nomination form:PolyU red_20PolyU red_17




  • Each nominator can only submit one nomination in each category.
  • The nomination of a person who has passed away will not be considered.
  • Self-nomination is acceptable if a letter of recommendation from a third party is provided.
  • The same nominee may be considered in different cycles (unless the nominee wins the prize).
  • Appropriate actions will be taken to address conflicts of interest, if any, by the Organising Committee.
  • A valid nomination submitted in a nomination year will only be considered for that year.
  • Nominations must be made in the strictest confidence.
  • The Faculty of Humanities will establish a Selection Committee responsible for shortlisting the candidates, appointing experts as reviewers, and confirming the awardees.
  • The Selection Committee consists of a Chairperson and at least four members. The members are appointed by the Dean of Faculty of Humanities on behalf of the Organising Committee of the Prize, for a term of two years with a maximum of two terms in office. The members of the Selection Committee are as follows:
    • Chairperson: Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University or his/her appointee
    • Members: Served by world-renowned scholars and academic leaders in the field
  • The Selection Committee will make a shortlist from the valid nominations. Each shortlisted candidate will then be reviewed by at least three expert reviewers independently. These expert reviewers are eminent scholars or leaders in the field appointed by the Selection Committee. They will evaluate the candidate’s suitability for the award and make a recommendation to the Selection Committee. Upon receiving the recommendation from the expert reviewers, the Selection Committee will make a final decision.

Important Dates for the 2024 Awards

Announcement of the Prize

28 August 2023

Nomination Starts

1 September 2023

Nomination Period

1 September 2023 to 30 November 2023

Awardee Selection

December 2023 to February 2024

Announcement of Awardees

March 2024

Award Presentation Ceremony

April 2024

The Faculty of Humanities of PolyU has the sole discretion to prescribe procedures or additional details other than those mentioned above as appropriate to suit specific circumstances.

peha2024Prof. Hagoort is Director of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (since November 2006), and the Founding Director of the Donders Institute, Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN, 1999). In addition, he is a Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Radboud University Nijmegen. His own research interests relate to the domain of the human language faculty and how it is instantiated in the brain. In his research, he applies neuroimaging techniques such as ERP, MEG, PET and fMRI to investigate the language system and its impairments as in aphasia, dyslexia and autism. Prof. Hagoort is a recipient of the Spinoza Prize and the Heymans Prize. He is an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Academia Europaea, and the US National Academy of Sciences.
Prof. Hagoort was the first to identify and characterise the P600 (note: a measurable response in the brain) as a marker of syntactic processing (Hagoort & Brown, Language and Cognitive Processes, 1993). Using multimodal methods (EEG, fMRI), he demonstrated that world knowledge is immediately integrated into sentence comprehension, challenging the standard assumption that sentence meaning is first determined and then its truth value is assessed (Hagoort et al., Science, 2004). Most recently, he found that catecholamine-related neurotransmitters can influence language processing (Tan & Hagoort, Cerebral Cortex, 2020) – this is the first study to show a neuropharmacological effect on semantic processing during sentence comprehension. He has also led the field in theorising about the neurobiology of language and developing testable models. He developed influential theories aimed at solving the difficult binding problem for language, proposing that the left inferior gyrus plays a critical role in unification (Hagoort, TICS, 2005) and demonstrating that this unification process and neurobiological models of language processing must move beyond the classical Wernicke-Lichtheim-Geschwind model (Hagoort, Frontiers in Psychology, 2013; Hagoort, Science, 2019). His MUC (memory, unification, and control) model has been highly influential. He has also moved the field forward by urging researchers to investigate the operation of language “in its full glory” such as co-speech gestures, conversational interactions.

Prof. Hagoort receives the Yuen Ren Chao Prize in Language Sciences for his distinguished contributions to the interdisciplinary studies in cognitive neuroscience and the understanding of human language processing in the brain.

William Shiyuan Wang1Prof. Wang was born and grew up in China. He received his PhD in Linguistics from the University of Michigan. He served as a Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley for more than 30 years, where he supervised over 30 PhD dissertations. He was the first to initiate a course on the biological foundation of language. He was also the first to use computers to compile a large database to study the historical development of Chinese dialects. He founded the Journal of Chinese Linguistics in 1973 and served as its Editor-in-Chief until 2018. He was elected President of the International Association of Chinese Linguistics when it was founded in 1992 in Singapore. He has served as a visiting professor in India, Italy, Japan, and Sweden. After relocation to Hong Kong, he taught as Chair Professor of Language Engineering at the City University of Hong Kong, and as Research Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He has served as member of several panels at the Hong Kong Research Grants Council. He is now Chair Professor of Language and Cognitive Sciences in the Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Professor Emeritus of the University of California at Berkeley, and Academician of Academia Sinica.  

Prof. Wang’s early interest in evolutionary theory, both biological and cultural, provided the basis of a theory of lexical diffusion, according to which variants of a language compete at different levels, and surviving variants persist into future generations. Recently, his interests have extended to the cognitive neuroscience of language across the lifespan, especially ageing. His honours include awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Fulbright Commission, resident fellowships for advanced studies at Stanford, Bellagio (Italy), Kyoto; Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America; Lifetime Achievement Award from the Shanghai Anthropological Society, Honorary Professor of Peking University, among others, Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Chicago, and Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humanities honoris causa from University of Macau.

Prof. Wang receives the Yuen Ren Chao Prize in Language Sciences for his distinguished contributions to the interdisciplinary studies in Chinese linguistics, evolutionary linguistics, and the cognitive neuroscience of language and ageing.

Award Contacts

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