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PolyU Launches Yuen Ren Chao Prize in Language Sciences Recognising Outstanding Scholars in the Field

29 Aug 2023

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is proud to announce the launch of the Yuen Ren Chao Prize in Language Sciences (“the Prize”) which aims to recognise the study of language sciences and honour those who have made distinguished contributions to the field.

The Prize is named in honour of the late Prof. Yuen Ren CHAO who is widely regarded as the father of modern Chinese language studies. Prof. Chao’s legacy as a distinguished linguist, poet, composer, translator and educator has left an indelible mark on scholars in China, Asia and around the world.

Prof. Jin-Guang TENG, President of PolyU and the University senior management, joined by Prof. LI Ping, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Prof. William Shi-Yuan WANG, Chair Professor of Language and Cognitive Sciences as well as distinguished guests including Dr Louis NG Chi-wa, Director of Hong Kong Palace Museum; Prof. Ovid Jyh-Lang TZENG, Academician of Academic Sinica; Dr Warren MOK, Artistic Director of Opera Hong Kong and renowned tenor; Ms Bing Bing WANG, renowned soprano; and Prof. XU Jie, Dean of Faculty of Arts and Humanities of the University of Macau, officiated at the Launch Ceremony.

The Ceremony opened with welcoming remarks from Prof. Jin-Guang Teng, followed by a remembering of Prof. Yuen Ren Chao by Prof. William Wang, a sharing of Prof. Chao’s academic influences by Prof. Ovid Tzeng and other distinguished academics, and an insightful talk on Prof. Chao’s academic achievements and contributions by Dr Louis Ng.

Prof. Jin-Guang Teng said, “PolyU and the Faculty of Humanities are honoured to uphold and further advance the legacy of Prof. Yuen Ren Chao. The Faculty pursues excellence in education and research by adopting a multidisciplinary approach that draws upon language, history, culture, communication and technology. It aims to become a leading hub connecting world-class linguists and language scientists around the globe to advance knowledge for the benefit of society. We are confident that the Prize will serve as a crucial catalyst in fostering greater linguistic and cultural understanding in the years to come.”

Dr Louis Ng described Prof. Yuen Ren Chao as a scholar whose knowledge traversed times, cultures and disciplines. He said, “Prof. Chao’s scientific knowledge enabled his use of scientific methods and means, while his musical knowledge inspired his countless linguistic studies. The cross-disciplinary combination of science, language and art prompted him to open a new world for modern Chinese linguistics research.”

The programme also included captivating singing performances of How Can I Help But Think Of You and The Sea Rhyme, both composed by Prof. Chao, by renowned artists Dr Warren Mok and Ms Bing Bing Wang. Additionally, a meaningful moment was captured through the recitation of one of Prof. Chao’s essays, Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den, by two PolyU students, symbolising the continuation of his language sciences legacy. A book exhibition also paid tribute to Prof. Chao’s remarkable contribution to language sciences.

Prof. Ovid Tzeng
and distinguished academics including Prof. CHEN Zhongmin of Fudan University, Prof. LI Jen-Kuei of Academia Sinica, Prof. SHI Feng of Nankai University, Dr Peter ZHOU of University of California, Berkeley and Dr CHEUNG Kwan-hin, Former Head of PolyU’s Department of Chinese and Bilingual Studies also shared their thoughts on Prof. Chao’s influence on their own academic and personal pursuits via video.

During the ceremony, Prof. Li Ping introduced the background of the Prize and announced nomination details and the selection process. Two awards, namely the Lifetime Achievement Award and Early Career Contribution Award, will be presented biennially, starting from 2024, to senior and junior scholars who have made distinguished contributions to research and education in language sciences respectively. A committee composed of world-renowned experts will select the candidates for the awards. The awardees will be featured as presenters of a distinguished lecture hosted by the Faculty of Humanities, along with the conferment of the Prize and cash awards. Nomination starts on 1 September 2023.

The host of the Prize, the PolyU Faculty of Humanities, is emerging as a leader in tertiary education in Asia Pacific and the world in the field of language sciences. Capitalising on its strengths in areas such as speech therapy, health communication and language neuroscience, the Faculty is poised to become a hub of language sciences research to create and advance knowledge for the benefit of mankind. The Prize exemplifies PolyU’s commitment to advancing humanities studies and education, and will inspire new generations of students and scholars to innovate in language science research.

For more information about the Prize, please visit the official website or send enquiries to

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