Dr. Tommi Leung
Wed, 28 September 2022
Tommi Leung is Professor of Linguistics at the Department of Cognitive Sciences. He was born and raised in Hong Kong. He got his Bachelor degree in English and Master degree in Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong under the supervision of Prof. Stephen Matthews, a prominent linguist specializing in Sinitic typology (e.g., Southern Chinese dialects such as Cantonese, Chaozhou and Minnan) and childhood bilingualism. His master discussed some interesting observations of codeswitching in Cantonese (his native language).
Tommi further pursued a PhD in Linguistics at the University of Southern California, and was immersed in the study of theoretical syntax under the supervision of the French syntactician Jean-Roger Vergnaud, who laid the foundation of abstract case theory which has a ever-standing influence of how linguists appreciate the significance of empty categories and elements in grammar. Tommi's doctoral dissertation, finished in 2007, proposed a novel approach to the derivational mechanism in syntax, which focuses on the notion of 'occurrence' in grammar. He moved to UAEU and worked as Assistant Professor thereafter. As a linguist, Tommi is specializing in generative syntax, theoretical phonology and typology. He has research experience on Arabic (esp. Emirati Arabic), Chinese dialects, Ethiopic, South Indian languages (e.g., Hindi, Tamil) and Southeast Asian language (e.g., Thai).
He has been collaborating with Profs. Dimitrios Ntelitheos and Meera Al Kaabi in the area of Emirati Arabic grammar, and the team has published the first-ever comprehensive grammar in Emirati Arabic (Routledge). They are now working for another workbook on Emirati Arabic grammar which is expected to be finished in 2023. Tommi has also extended research interest to experimental linguistics. His current experimental work includes the study of Arabic reading by measuring readers' eye movement patterns. In the future, he would like to work on other less-researched languages such as Southeast Asian languages and Ethiopic. Outside of academia, Tommi is avid fitness enthusiast. His current workout interest is mainly plank combo, resistance band training and HIIT, something he developed since the Covid pandemic. He can also be found playing snooker and board games with friends, and enjoying iced mocha with a Kindle in his hand.
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