Kay Yeo Hui Qin won Bert Peeters Prize for Best Student Project in NSM Semantics

June 01, 2022

The college would like to send its heartiest congratulations to Year 2 student Kay Yeo who won the inaugural Bert Peeters Prize 2022 for her essay "Understanding an atas Singaporean". What started out as an assignment for the IEM2 module 'What's in a word?' Meaning across cultures, it developed into a 4000-word paper submission with the support of Kay’s IEM tutor, Dr Wong Jock Onn. It nailed the Prize for Best Student Project in NSM Semantics annual writing competition (https://nsm-approach.net/bert-peeters-prize) earlier this year. The prize was named after Bert Peeters who was an NSM (natural semantic metalanguage) semanticist and he passed away in 2021.

Kay drew inspiration from her interactions with her friends where she learnt about the word ‘atas’. According to Kay, what piqued her interest in the term was that it is culturally significant because when someone calls another ‘atas’, it could be to draw distance or to confirm one’s desire to be like the other. She tried to capture such conflicting ideas reflected in the use of the term in her winning submission.

The judges’ comments were:

“Your essay on "Understanding an atas Singaporean" is truly excellent. It is extremely clear and well-reasoned, draws on a good range of naturally occurring examples, and provides the necessary cultural contextualisation. I look forward to meeting you online at NSM-Con2022 and hearing your presentation. You clearly have great potential as an NSM researcher. I dearly hope you will advance to higher studies.” –Cliff Goddard, Professor in Linguistics, Griffith University

“An excellent choice of a word to nominate and explore as a Singaporean key word. Culturally very illuminating topic. Very well-chosen examples of use presented as evidence for the proposed analysis. Excellent use of data sources, a very useful survey. At the same time, the limitations of this data collection are properly acknowledged in the Conclusion.” –Anna Wierzbicka, Professor of Linguistics (Emerita), The Australian National University

Kay presented her paper at a recent NSM conference. Here is a link to the YouTube video recording of Kay’s presentation: https://youtu.be/piP5xm3gfbI


N Bert Peeters Prize Certificate Kay Yeo


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