To help alumni get to know the School better, we are planning to do a series of profiles of the School of English academic staff, compiled by postgraduate students of the School.
Like English itself, the School of English is highly international. Among the eight or nine different nationalities represented in the teaching and research staff, there are two from Switzerland. One of these is Adrian Pablé, who joined the School in 2009. Here is some more about him.
Staff profile: Dr Adrian Pablé
Adrian Pablé joined the School of English in August 2009, where he teaches for the programmes in ‘English Studies’ and ‘Language and Communication’. Previously he taught at the Swiss Universities of Lausanne, Neuchâtel and Berne, and worked as a part-time research assistant at the University of Ottawa, Canada. He has published in the fields of Integrational linguistics, American (historical) dialectology, sociolinguistics, name studies, literary linguistics and translation studies. His study on translations of The Importance of Being Earnest (Pablé 2005) is cited and discussed in the newest Wikipedia entry on Wilde’s famous play. Adrian Pablé’s current interests are in the history of linguistic thought, integrational linguistics, socio-historical linguistics and social semiotics.
Integrational linguistics, Dr Pablé’s main focus, is an approach to language developed by Oxford Professor Roy Harris. It is mainly addressing linguists and philosophers of language, but lay speakers are given an important place in integrational semiology. Integrationalism postulates that context and experience are the main factors in communication. Simultaneously, it posits that the belief in languages as codes used to transfer thoughts from speaker to listener is a myth.
The postgraduate students of the School have interviewed him to offer the alumni a chance to know him better.
Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
Before Hong Kong I was living in Lausanne, in Switzerland. Moving to Hong Kong was certainly a very different experience for both me and my family. There were quite a lot of things we had to adjust to on arriving here, such as the small living spaces, or the high educational costs involved to be able to send our children to school.
What it was like coming to HK after your previous jobs and location? Do you like the campus, the students?
I like teaching at HKU: some of the undergraduate students are brilliant. I enjoy teaching integrational linguistics here, and I some of the students are quite responsive to it. I also think we have some great postgraduate students in our School who are indeed a source of inspiration. And the new campus is great.
Do you speak any Chinese?
I haven’t learnt any Chinese, but some of my children have. I am very interested in issues involving intercultural communication here in HK, and a keen observer.
Dr. Pablé, we know that you have a background in socio- and historical linguistics, integrational linguistics, and semiotics, and you have done a significant amount of work in those fields. Could you please very briefly tell us what your current research interests are, and maybe also name one or two specific projects?
I’m planning to compile an annotated historical dictionary of integrational linguistics, which provides information on the metalanguage of integrationism. My current research interests include ideologies of English in Hong Kong, the representation of ‘archaic English’ in popular culture, and the writings of Roy Harris.
What most inspired you to work on your current research project?
Currently I’m interested in the question of the ontological existence of ‘varieties of language’, in particular the relationship between linguists’ beliefs in the reality of varieties and those of lay speakers.
We all know that one of your biggest intellectual interests is integrational linguistics. Could you please briefly tell us what is happening in this thriving field? What cutting-edge topics are integrationists around the world working on?
Some of the integrationists are trying to shift the field’s traditional focus on philosophy of linguistics toward more ‘applied’ studies of communication; also there is interest in more dialogue between integrational linguists and sociolinguists.
We have also heard that Roy Harris, the founder of integrational linguistics, has recently published a book called ‘Integrating Reality’. Have you read the book already? Could you give us some of your thoughts on this book?
I am reading it, but haven’t finished it yet. The book is essentially about the relationship between language and reality, and how orthodox philosophers’ and linguists’ metaphysics differs from an integrational one. There is a fascinating chapter on Leonard Bloomfield and William Labov concerning the question of the ‘reality’ of data.
This is the last question of our interview. We would like to know something about your supervision. What topics are your postgraduate students working on? And do you have any expectations for the kind of topics that you would like to supervise in future?
My postgraduate students are working on very diverse topics such as ‘human agency in linguistic theory’, ‘Vygotskian psycholinguistics and present-day Second Language Acquisition theory’ and ‘Integrational linguistics’. I’m interested in supervising research in the field of ‘ideologies of language’ and on any aspects of integrational semiology.
Thank you so much for this interview, Dr. Pablé. We wish you all the best with your interesting research projects and your work.