Dr Lisa Lim graduated from the National University of Singapore with a First Class Honours in English Language, and went on to do her PhD in phonetics at the University of Reading. She returned to the Department of English Language and Literature of the National University of Singapore in 1996 as Lecturer/ Assistant Professor. In 2004 she exchanged balmy breezes for North Sea winds to be at the University of Amsterdam, for a year at the Institute of Phonetic Sciences, and then as senior lecturer and researcher at the Department of English and the Amsterdam Centre for Language and Communication (ACLC).
2009 saw her returning, thrilled, to tropical Asia, where she joined the School of English at the University of Hong Kong. As Coordinator of the Language and Communication (L&C) programme, a position she held for 7 years from September 2009 until August 2016, she revamped L&C's profile, turning its lens onto today's multilingual, globalised world, and introducing in the programme learning experiences such as fieldwork in local minority communities, field trips, a vibrant internship scheme, and knowledge exchange with the community. She was also Chair of the Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee from September 2014 until August 2016, during which time she helped develop a more engaged environment and created more visible platforms for the research activities and achievements of the School's research postgraduates. In September 2016, she assumed the position of Head of the School of English.
Her current research interests – reflected in her teaching and supervision – centre around: New Englishes, especially postcolonial Asian varieties in multilingual ecologies, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, with particular interest in contact dynamics, involving both sociohistorical and linguistic investigation; phonetics/ phonology/ prosody; language documentation; and issues of language shift, endangerment, revitalisation, and post-vernacular linguistic and cultural vitality in minority and endangered language communities, such as the Peranakans in Singapore and the Malays of Sri Lanka; and the sociolinguistics of globalisation, with interests in mobility, urban multiculturalism, computer-mediated communication, and their impact on language contact.
She was part of the team working on Sri Lanka Malay, supported by the Volkswagen Stiftung’s initiative for the documentation of endangered languages (2004-2009), and she recently brought to completion a project on The Ecology and Evolution of Asian Englishes, funded by Hong Kong’s Research Grants Council (2012-2015). She is currently a collaborator in the World Universities Network (WUN) project on Understanding Globalisation – Margins and Peripheries. She has edited a number of books and special issues, in particular on both structural and sociolinguistics aspects of English in Asia. Her recent book, Languages in Contact (2016, co-authored with Umberto Ansaldo) is published with Cambridge University Press in their Key Topics in Sociolinguistics series.
She is founding editor (with Umberto Ansaldo) of the new journal Language Ecology. She serves on the editorial boards of Language, Culture and Curriculum (Taylor & Francis), Language Sciences (Elsevier), Journal of Second Language Pronunciation (John Benjamins), World Englishes (Wiley-Blackwell); and the Faculty Advisory Board of Mercury, HKU Journal of Undergraduate Humanities.
Lisa is passionately committed to and actively engages in knowledge transfer. She developed the online resource LinguisticMinorities.hk, for which she won the HKU Faculty of Arts’ Knowledge Exchange Award 2014. She contributes (since July 2016) a fortnightly column 'Language Matters' for the South China Morning Post's Sunday Post Magazine, which aims to give readers a more nuanced appreciation for the sociohistorical ecologies and contact dynamics that underlie the origins of words, phrases and language practices in Hong Kong and the region, such as chit, chop, junk, chai, add oil, kiasu, tuk-tuk, have you eaten?, as well as address issues pertaining to minority language communities, language endangerment, migration, and language rights.