Universiteit Leiden

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Matthew Sung

PhD candidate / contract

H.W.M. Sung
+31 71 527 2125

Matthew Sung is a PhD student at Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) and Leiden University Centre for Digital Humanities (LUCDH). His main research interest is in (general) dialectology, the study of geographical variation of language. In other words, he creates and analyse linguistic maps based on data from dialect surveys and linguistic atlases. He creates digital maps using Geographical Information System (GIS), and with these maps, he can explore the phonological history of dialects by exploring the areal distribution of variants as well as sound change interactions and diffusion patterns. Other than using the existing methods in dialectology, he also likes to find new ways in understanding the dialect data by writing various Python scripts.

More information about Matthew Sung

Fields of interest

  • General Dialectology
  • Dialectometry
  • Computational Dialectology
  • Segmental and Tonal Variation
  • Linguistic Mapping (QGIS)
  • Dialect Classification
  • Historical Reconstruction
  • Yue (粵語) dialectology


My PhD project involves using computational methods and cartographic techniques to explore, visualise and analyse dialectal variation.

There are two main components in my project: 1) developing a tonal distance metric, investigate how tones vary geographically and how they differ from segments, and 2) developing a method which automatically detects dialect features which are exclusive to specific dialect areas.

Previous studies on tonal variation in dialectology are mainly descriptive. It is still unclear a) whether tonal variation forms a dialect continuum, and if so, b) in what ways do tones differ from one dialect to another? Once there is a method to calculate tone distances between dialects, we can further ask, c) do tonal and segmental variation in a given dialect area correlate with each other?

Dialect groups can now be detected automatically with computational methods. However, these methods are not able to tell us what kinds of features are distinctive for certain dialect groups. The development of an automatic feature detection method is therefore an important step towards the understanding and explanation of the clusters we find in our classification.

Curriculum vitae

2019-2020 University of Edinburgh
MSc Linguistics by Research with Distinction
2019-2020 Ailie Donald Scholarship
2015-2019 University of Edinburgh
MA Linguistics (Hons) 1st Class Honour
2016-2017 The Derek Britton Scholarship

Key publications

  • Sung, Matthew, Prokić, Jelena & Chen, Yiya (submitted). "A New Dataset for Tonal and Segmental Dialectometry from the Yue- and Pinghua-Speaking Area".
  • Sung, Matthew & Prokić, Jelena (submitted). "A Comparison between 3 Feature Extraction Methods in Dialectometry". Computational Linguistics in the Netherlands Journal.
  • Sung, Matthew & Prokić, Jelena (in progress). "Relative Chronology of Dialectal Phonetic Features".
  • Sung, Matthew, Prokić, Jelena & Chen, Yiya. (forthcoming). "Applying the state–of–the–art tonal distance metrics to a large dialectal dataset". Methods XVII proceedings.
  • Sung, Matthew. (2019). “Is San Diu a Cantonese variety or is it something else? A historical phonological analysis of the Sinitic words in San Diu”. In Proceedings of ULAB IX. Presented at the Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain (ULAB), Queen Mary University of London. http:

PhD candidate / contract

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics
  • LUCL diversen

Work address

P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden


Education and research staff member

  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Univ Centre for Linguistics
  • LUCL Nederlands

Work address

P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden


  • No relevant ancillary activities
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