Stephen Matthews (linguist)

Stephen Matthews, a linguist, specialises in language typology, syntax and semantics. His current interests include the word order typology of Chinese; the grammar of Chinese dialects, notably Cantonese, Chaozhou and other Minnan dialects; language contact and bilingualism, with particular reference to Sinitic languages. He is Co-Director of the Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre.[1]


Matthews received his B.A. in Modern and Medieval Languages from the University of Cambridge, and his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Southern California. He has taught at the University of Hong Kong, the University of Melbourne and University of Paris. He has co-authored Cantonese: A Comprehensive Grammar (1994, second edition 2011) and other works on Cantonese, and co-edited The Atlas of Languages with Bernard Comrie and Maria Polinsky (1996) which has been translated into several languages. His work has appeared in the Journal of Linguistics, Journal of Chinese Linguistics, Journal of East Asian Linguistics, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, Linguistic Typology and Bilingualism: Language and Cognition.

Matthews is married to Virginia Yip, and has a son and two bilingual daughters. He is an amateur musician, playing second violin with the Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra and the SAR Philharmonic. He is an academic signatory to the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt concerning the Shakespeare Authorship Question.

The Hong Kong Bilingual Child Language Corpus

The Hong Kong Bilingual Child Language Corpus, which is reported in 2005 as the world's largest video-linked database of children becoming bilingual, created by Matthews and Yip, features 170 hours of audio and video files of four families raising their children bilingually in Cantonese and English. The project, which includes transcripts and searchable video and audio segments, took 10 years to compile. This database has already been the data source for several undergraduate and graduate dissertations in Hong Kong, and it is the basis of a book, The Bilingual Child, written by Yip and Matthews and published by Cambridge University Press in 2007, which received the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award from the Linguistic Society of America in 2009. The database focuses on children who are bilingual in English and Cantonese and who learned to speak two languages through the one-parent, one-language approach. Using that method, one parent speaks to the child in one language, and the other parent speaks to the child in another.

Research Projects

Books & Publications

  1. Yip, V. and S. Matthews. 2010. Promoting Bilingualism Research in Hong Kong and East Asia: The Childhood Bilingualism Research Center. Journal of Chinese Linguistics 38. 2: 396-403.

External links

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