Open main menu

Stephen Matthews (馬詩帆) is a linguist specializing in language typology, syntax and semantics. His current interests include the word order typology of Chinese; the grammar of Chinese languages, 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], Chinese University of Hong Kong.[2]



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.

In the 1990s, Matthews went to Hong Kong to became a teacher at University of Hong Kong.[3] 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. He has co-edited (with Bernard Comrie and Maria Polinsky) The Atlas of Languages (1996), which has been translated into several languages. He has published scholarly articles in the Journal of Linguistics, Journal of Chinese Linguistics, Journal of East Asian Linguistics, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory and Linguistic Typology and Bilingualism: Language and Cognition.

Matthews is married to linguist Virginia Yip, and has three bilingual children: a son and two daughters.[4] 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.

His Chinese name (馬詩帆) was given to him by his wife Virginia Yip.[5]

The Hong Kong Bilingual Child Language CorpusEdit

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 ProjectsEdit

Books & PublicationsEdit

  • Matthews, S. & V. Yip. 1994. Cantonese: A Comprehensive Grammar. London: Routledge. Second edition, 2011. (on-line review by Marjorie Chan); Japanese edition by E. Chishima and S. Kataoka, Tokyo: Toho Shoten, 2000.
  • Comrie, B., S. Matthews and M. Polinsky (consulting editors).1996. The Atlas of Languages. New York: Facts on File, and London: Bloomsbury
    • Dutch version edited by Jeroen Wiedenhof: De grote taalatlas. Amsterdam: De Schuyt & Co., 1998;
    • Japanese version edited by Fusa Katada: Sekai gengo bunka zukan: sekai no gengo no kigen to denpa. Tokyo: Tooyoo Shorin, 1999;
    • Revised English edition: New York: Facts on File, 2003;
    • French version based on revised edition: Atlas des langues, Editions Acropole, Paris, 2004
  • Matthews, S. (ed), 1998. Studies in Cantonese Linguistics. Linguistic Society of Hong Kong.
  • Yip, V. & S. Matthews, 2000. Basic Cantonese: a Grammar and Workbook. London: Routledge.
  • Yip, V. & S. Matthews, 2001. Intermediate Cantonese: a Grammar and Workbook. London: Routledge. (on-line review by Blaine Erickson)
  • Yip, V. & S. Matthews. 2007. The Bilingual Child: early development and language contact. Cambridge University Press.


  1. ^ Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre, Chinese University of Hong Kong.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 【番鬼佬教廣東話】廿六年粵語功力 西人教港大生廣東話
  4. ^ 【妙論粵語】英國教授唱《一生何求》學廣東話
  5. ^ 【妙論粵語】白雪雪圓轆轆 英國教授真心like

External linksEdit