Picus Sizhi Ding 丁思志
       Assistant Professor
       Linguistics Department, School of Humanities, The University of Hong Kong      Email: picus◎hku.hk

I have developed research strengths in core aspects of language, such as phonology (especially suprasegmental phonology), phonetics, morphology, and syntax, through first-hand fieldwork investigation of Prinmi, a Tibeto-Burman language of Yunnan, China. With broad interests in Linguistics, my research experience extends from analysis of Chinese languages to minority languages of China. I have recently set up the Minority Languages of China Group (MLCG).


Ph.D. in Linguistics from Australian National University
Dissertation: Fundamentals of Prinmi (Pumi): A Tibeto-Burman Language of Northwestern Yunnan, China.

M.A. in Linguistics from Simon Fraser University, Canada
Thesis: The BA Resultative Construction: A Comprehensive Study of Mandarin BA Sentences.

B.A. in Linguistics (cum laude) from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.

Courses Taught

    LING1001  Introduction to Linguistics (Team-teaching)

    LING2004  Phonetics: Describing Sounds

    LING2027  Phonology: An Introduction to the Study of Sound Systems

    LING3003  Linguistics Field Trip

    LING6001  Research Methods in Linguistics (Team-teaching)

    LING7004  Phonetics and Phonology

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Major Research Interests

  • Descriptive linguistics, with a focus on the sound system of lesser-known languages;

  • Sociolinguistics on languages of China, including language contact, multilingualism, and linguistic ecology;

  • Typological phonology of tone languages, especially those of the Far East; and

  • Semantic change and grammaticalization.

Interested in one of these areas for your postgraduate research?
Read on here.

Dissertations Completed under Direct Supervision

Doctoral Dissertation
HO Wing-See. 2011. A Phonological Study of the Tone-melody Correspondence in Cantonese Pop Music.

M.A. Thesis
CHAN Miu Kuen. 2011. A Study of the Intelligibility of Taishanese to Cantonese-Speakers.
LING Hiu Yan. 2010. Production of English /r/ And /w/ by Cantonese L1 Speakers in Hong Kong.
YIU Suet Yee. 2011. Tone assignment of English spoken in Hong Kong.

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Recent Publications

Forthcoming.     Southern Min (Hokkien) as a Migrating Language: a comparative study of language shift and maintenance across national borders. Singapore: Springer.


A Grammar of Prinmi: Based on the Central dialect of northwest Yunnan, China. Languages of the Greater Himalayan Region 14. Leiden: Brill.

Click the links to read Table of Contents, Chapter One, or a synopsis of Prinmi (to appear in The Sino-Tibetan Languages, Second Edition).

2007.     Studies on Bǎ Resultative Construction: A comprehensive approach to Mandarin Bǎ sentences. Lincom Studies in Asian Linguistics 62. München: Lincom.



Chinese influence on Vietnamese: a Sinospheric tale. In Christel Stolz (ed.), Language Empires in Comparative Perspective, 55–75. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton.


(with Caroline Féry). Word order, information structure and intonation of Discontinuous Nominal Constructions in Cantonese. Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale, 43.2: 110–143.


Power and other issues in minority language education in China: the case of Bai in northwestern Yunnan. In C. Volker & F. Anderson(eds.), Education in Languages of Lesser Power: an Asia-Pacific Perspective, 47-62. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


From intonation to tone: the case of utterance-final particles aa and wo in Cantonese (in Chinese: 从语调到声调——以粤语句末语气助词‘呀’、‘喎’为例). Modern Linguistics 1.2: 36-41.


香港——语言接触的实验室 (Hong Kong as a laboratory for language contact). 青海民族研究 (Qinghai Nationalities Studies) 2013.4: 171-176.


The partially denasalized bilabial plosive in Southern Min: comparison to [mb] in Amdo Tibetan. Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, 584-587.


Phonological change in Hong Kong Cantonese through language contact with Chinese topolects and English over the past century. In: Robert McColl Millar, Marginal dialects: Scotland, Ireland and beyond. Aberdeen, UK, Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster, 198-218.


Rhoticization as a Secondary Articulation in Stops: Evidence from Prinmi. Chinese Journal of Phonetics 2: 74-81.


Learning of Minority Languages in Yunnan, China. In De Graaf, Tjeerd, Nicholas Ostler and Reinier Salverda (eds.) Endangered Languages and Language Learning (Proceedings of FEL XII), pp. 93-100. Bath, England: Foundation for Endangered Languages.


Challenges in Language Modernization in China: The case of Prinmi. In David, Maya, Nicholas Ostler and Caesar Dealwis (eds.) Working Together for Endangered Languages: Research Challenges and Social Impacts (Proceedings of FEL XI), pp. 120-126. Bath, England: Foundation for Endangered Languages.


The Use of Perception Tests in Studying the Tonal System of Prinmi Dialects: A Speaker-centered Approach to Descriptive Linguistics. Language Documentation and Conservation 1.2: 154-181.


A Typological Study of Tonal Systems of Japanese and Prinmi: Towards a definition of pitch-accent languages. Journal of Universal Language 7.2: 1-35.


粵語的「據由」助詞初探 Journal of Macao Polytechnic Institute 9.4: 105-113.


<普米语语言现代化中存在的问题—兼谈文字推广和语言保存> ,大卫·布莱德雷编《中国云南濒危语言遗产保护研讨会》,69-78页,墨尔本:拉特罗布大学。


Semantic Change vs. Categorical Change: A study of the development of Mandarin BA. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 29.1: 102-128.


The pitch-accent system of Niuwozi Prinmi. Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area 24.2: 57-83.

Book Reviews

2011.   A Grammar of Eton (By Mark Van de Velde).

2008a.  Dramatized Discourse: The Mandarin Chinese ba-construction (By Zhuo Jing-Schmidt). China Review International, 15.2: 228-233.

2008b.  Koguryo: The Language of Japan's Continental Relatives (Second Edition) (By Christopher Beckwith).

2007.   Atlas of the World's Languages (Second Edition) (Edited by R. E. Asher and Christopher Moseley).

2006.   Language Diversity in the Pacific: Endangerment and Survival (Edited by Cunningham, Denis; Ingram, D. E.; Sumbuk, Kenneth).

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Keynote & Invited Panel Speech

June, 2013

Hong Kong as a Laboratory for Language Contact. Invited keynote paper at the First International Conference on Language Contact. Qinghai University for Nationalities, Xining, China. (香港——语言接触的实验室,宣读于首届语言接触国际研讨会。青海西宁,青海民族大学。)

May, 2012

Phonological Modification through Bilingual Speakers: the case of word-tone system in coastal Chinese topolects. Presented at International Conference on Bilingualism and Comparative Linguistics. Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

March, 2012

Chinese Influence on Vietnamese: a Sinospheric tale. Presented at the Language Empires in Comparative Perspective. University of Bremen, Bremen, Germany.

Feb, 2010

Diversity in Sino-Tibetan Languages. Presented at The Conference on Sino-Tibetan Language Studies. Chiangrai Rajabaht University. Chiangrai, Thailand.

Sept, 2008

Size Doesn't Matter: Language Endangerment in China. Presented at the 41st International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. SOAS, London, UK.

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Conference Presentations since 2008

Oct, 2014

The word ‘Horse’ in Tibeto-Burman: a case of prehistoric borrowing. To present at the 47th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. Yunnan Normal University, Kunming, China.

Sept, 2014

Value of Prinmi: knowledge of traditional culture in a threatened language. Presented at the Eighteenth Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages. Ryukyuan Heritage Language Society, Okinawa, Japan.

July, 2014

Language attrition in bilingual Prinmi-speaking children. Presented at the 20th Himalayan Languages Symposium. Nanyang Technology University, Singapore.

March, 2014

The charms of Chinese characters and minority language education in China. Presented at the 2014 conference of the American Association for Applied Linguistics. Temple University. Portland, Oregon, U.S.

June, 2013

Bilingualism in transition: case studies in Myanmar and Hong Kong. Presented at the 9th International Symposium on Bilingualism. Nanyang Technology University, Singapore.

May, 2013

An analysis of topics in Prinmi: in cross-linguistic perspective. Presented at the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

Nov, 2012


Oct, 2012

Issues in Classification of Prinmi Dialects. Presented at The 45th International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. Nanyang Technology University, Singapore.

Sept, 2012

Language Contact and Chinese Nationalism. Presented at the Language Contact in Asia and the Pacific. University of Macau, Macau, China.

March, 2012

Utterance-final particles with grammaticalized intonation in Cantonese. Presented at the Workshop on Innovations in Cantonese Linguistics. The Ohio State University, Columbus,USA.

Sept, 2011

A Preliminary Classification of Prinmi Dialects. Presented at the 17th Himalayan Languages Symposium. Kobe City University of Foreign Studies, Kobe, Japan.

July, 2011

On historical phonetics: Non-language specific and unidirectional sound changes. Presented at the 20th International Conference on Historical Linguistics. National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan.

July, 2011

The average Chinese language: An outline of typological profile. Presented at the Workshop on Typological Studies of Languages of China, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Jan, 2011

The Prosodic System of Japanese as a Subtype of Tone System: Evidence from Prinmi. Presented at CUNY Conference on the Phonology of Endangered Languages. (Handout) City University of New York, New York, USA.

Oct, 2010

Numerals in Tangut. Presented at The 43rd International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. Lund University, Lund, Sweden.

July, 2010


June, 2010

Language Ecology and Developing China's West: The case of Yunnan. Presented at The Third Conference on Heritage Maintenance for Endangered Languages in Yunnan, China. Yuxi, Yunnan, China.

May, 2010

送气擦音的语音特点 — 以黔东南黄平苗语为例, 宣读于第九届中国语音学学术会议。天津,南开大学。

April, 2010

Pragmatic Strategies in Prinmi. Presented at Workshop on Pragmatic Markers in Asian Languages. National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.

Feb, 2010

The Role of Domain in the Lexical Tone System. Presented at The 32nd Annual Conference Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft. Berlin, Germany.

Aug, 2009


Aug, 2009

白语中的唇齿音(The Labio-dentals in Bai),宣读于中国社会科学院民族学与人类学研究所、上海市高校比较语言学E-研究院(上海师范大学)、大理白族自治州人民政府、大理学院合辦之「首届白语国际学术研讨会」。(Presented at the First International Conference on the Bai Language. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Shanghai Normal University, Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture Government, and Dali College. Dali, Yunnan, China.)

July, 2009

Syllable-tone, Word-tone and Melody-tone: Towards a Typology of Tone Languages of China. Presented at the 8th Biennial Conference of the Association for Linguistic Typology. University of California, Berkeley, USA.

Jan, 2009

試評〈白狼歌〉之壯語破譯 ,宣讀於香港中文大學舉辦之「古道照顏色─先秦兩漢古籍國際學術研討會」。

Sept, 2008

Learning of Minority Languages in Yunnan, China. Presented at the Twelfth Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages. Fryske Akademy, Ljouwert/Leeuwarden, Netherlands.

Sept, 2008

Sibling Terminology in Prinmi. Presented at the 41st International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. SOAS, London, UK.

Sept, 2008

(with Caroline Féry.) Word Order, Information Structure and Intonation of Discontinuous Nominal Constructions in Cantonese. Presented at the 41st International Conference on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics. SOAS, London, UK.

April, 2008

Rhoticization as a Secondary Articulation in Stops: Evidence from Prinmi. Presented at the International Symposium on Phonetic Frontiers. Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China.

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