Youngah Do

Principle Investigator

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I am broadly interested in understanding the human ability to learn sound patterns. How do we abstract patterns from continuous sound streams, and how do various learning mechanisms help or impede learning ? My research approaches individual phenomena in the acquisition of sound patterns from three directions: (a) formal analysis within the framework of generative grammar, (b) experimentation accessing learners’ linguistic knowledge, and (c) computational modeling incorporating components of linguistic theory. As a new PI of the Language Development Lab, I am excited to explore questions on language learning with the wonderful people.


Jon Havenhill

Principle Investigator

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Dr. Jonathan Havenhill conducts research in phonetics, phonology, language variation and change, and sociophonetics. His research involves the use of ultrasound tongue imaging and other experimental methods to investigate the articulatory configurations that underlie linguistic sound systems.

Robert Marcelo Sevilla

Postdoctoral Researcher

My research interests include the Xiang group, Sinitic typology, acoustics (of hesitation markers like uh and um in particular), and grammatical variation (of classifier constructions in particular). I'm also willing to chat about diachronic linguistics with anyone, rain or shine!

Arthur Thompson

Postdoctoral Researcher

Without imitating there is no learning. I am interested in how humans use imitation to express what we mean from a multimodal, cognitive, and phonological perspective. In particular, my research investigates how and why communicative imitation sounds or appears different from language to language, and to what extent such imitation is transparent or easily learnable in different contexts. I work with a variety of languages, such as Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Chaoyang (Southern Min), and Hong Kong Sign Language. My PhD laid the groundwork for a methodology which allows one to phonologically identify and argue for semantic relations across ideophones from unrelated languages. Currently, I am collaborating with colleagues on a project which seeks to understand the interaction of hand gestures and guessing accuracy of ideophone meanings from different languages. Another project has us looking at longterm phonological acquisition of Hong Kong Sign Language by hearing adults. Playing with new methodologies and trying out new experimental designs is how I express myself creatively in my academic work. In addition to that, I supervise student research projects ranging from English vowel perception to the linguistic landscape of Shenzhen malls to the euphonics and phonetics of expressive strategies in langsonghui 朗誦會 poetry to the multimodal nature of popular WeChat memes.

Jonah LACK

Jonah Lack

PhD student
Affiliated with Brain & Second Language Lab
I am a first year PhD student planning on researching L2 syntactic representations and morphosyntactic processing through EEG, and am specifically interested in the roles that implicit and explicit knowledge play during language processing and acquisition. My MA dissertation discussed structural priming in bilinguals, including current theories, methodologies, and trends. I'm heavily interested in L2 processing and acquisition broadly, and have been studying Korean and Mandarin since the start of my Bachelor's degree with the goal of attaining fluency.

Ming Liu

MPhil student

I'm a MPhil student planning to work on phonetics and Second Language Acquisition. I'm interested in speech learning in second language acquisition as well as sound change in natural language contact, especially the interaction between Mandarin and Hakka.

Samuel Sui Lung SZE

Samuel, Sui Lung Sze

PhD student
Affiliated with Brain & Second Language Lab
I am a PhD student planning to research second language acquisition. Deeply interested in L2 processing, I hope to utilise electroencephalography (EEG) and psycholinguistic paradigms to probe into L2 syntactic and morphological processing and L1-L2 differences. To explore these research themes, my research work will look into how Hong Kong L1-Cantonese L2-English speakers process L2 sentences and words.


Frank, Lihui Tan

PhD Student

I majored in General Linguistics and Computer Science. My current interest is in the computational modelling of sound change, especially how individuals' learning mechanisms could be modelled from theories and experiments and act as a unit of larger models of speech communities to investigate sound change. In my future studies, I would like to explore this topic in more detail. Hope to learn more about human's phonological learning mechanisms here!


Zhihao Wang

PhD student

I am a PhD student working on phonology and phonetics, and their interface. Having a background of Chinese historical phonology, I have a strong interest in comparative studies of Chinese dialects and some geographically adjacent languages. Currently, my research focuses on tones. I hope to get some new perspective through observing interaction of different tonal systems.

Xiaoyu Yu

Xiaoyu Yu

PhD student

I am a first year PhD student planning to work on Chinese dialects and phonological learning. I am currently interested in how the speakers of a Chinese variety acquire the sounds of another Chinese variety based on the modern phonological correspondences, and how learning biases are involved in this process. For my MPhil in England, I researched the phonological and phonetic interaction between Mandarin and Chengdu Dialect, which is my own first dialect. My other interests include Middle Chinese phonology and analysis of sound changes using experimental methods.


Ivy, Shuang Zheng

PhD student

I am a first-year PhD student planning to work on phonology and phonological learning. I am currently interested in the phonological representation of tones and phonological processes in tone languages, with a focus on varieties of Chinese.


Rachel, Pui Ching Chen

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am an undergraduate intern fascinated by sound production and perception. I am interested in how people have different styles of pronunciation across and within languages, and how sounds are connected to semantic meanings and emotional values in our minds. I would love to gain insight into the mechanism of phonological learning and sign language acquisition.

Clarissa Ki

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am an undergraduate studying BA Linguistics at UCL. My main interests within linguistics include phonology, language acquisition and syntax.


Grace, Ki Wai So

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am a year 2 Computer Science student, second majoring in General Linguistics. I am interested in exploring the field of Computational Linguistics.


Mavies, Yu On Ngai

Undergraduate Research Assistant

I am an undergraduate student majoring in General Linguistics. I am currently interested in the field of phonology and language acquisition, specifically the interaction between the two languages during the process of language acquisition of bilinguals. I am eager to gain hands-on experience and to explore more possibilities.

Wing Cheung Aaron CHIK_dresden_cropped

Aaron, Wing Cheung Chik

Lab manager

I graduated from HKU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in General Linguistics and German. My research interests lie in morphosyntax, second-language learning and orthography. Currently I am interested in language description, particularly Sino-Tibetan morphosyntax.

Previous Lab Members

Postdoctoral researchers

Graduate students

  • Dr. Tingyu Huang (PhD 2021; tenure-track researcher at Sichuan University)
  • Dr. Eileen Waegemaekers (PhD 2019; researcher at Leiden University)
  • Bingzi Yu (MIT PhD)

Master students

  • Katrina Ke Chun Li (MA 2019; Cambridge PhD)

Undergraduate Research Assistants/Interns

  • Michael Mak O Hu
  • Stephen Tsz To Ho
  • Wayne Tak Wang Li
  • Ping Hei Yeung (BA 2021; Georgetown University PhD)
  • May Pik Yu Chan (BA 2020; UPenn PhD)
  • Kelly Chun Wing Cheng
  • Carrie Ka Yee Chan
  • Heidi Hui Lam Lui
  • Ryan Ka Yau Lai (BA 2019; UCSB PhD)