2002 Studies in the Intra-sentential Co-reference Rules of the 3rd person pronoun “ta” in Chinese. MA Thesis, Peking University, Beijing, China. [download pdf ]

Note: for update on this topic, see my article "An LFG analysis of pronominal binding in Mandarin Chinese"published in 2016 in the Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America here.

Abstract: This thesis examines the intra-sentential co-reference rules of the third person pronoun “ta” in Chinese. I propose that the rules can be primarily categorized into syntactic and non-syntactic ones. In terms of syntax, this thesis combines the notion of c-command with the X-bar structure of noun phrases to study the co-reference rules of “ta” in simple non-embedding sentences first, and then the analysis is expanded to complex sentences with an embedded object clause. Based upon a thorough analysis of corpus data, I propose a new notion of “direct c-command” as the structural condition that determines the co-reference rules of “ta” in complex sentences.


2009 Issues in the Semantics of Mandarin Questions, Ph.D. Dissertation, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. [download pdf ]

Note: much of the research in this dissertation has been updated and in many cases replaced by new analyses and conclusions in my book "Semantics of Chinese Questions: An Interface Approach" (Routledge 2019). Read more here.

Abstract: This dissertation strives to explain certain long-standing issues in Mandarin questions within a new framework, i.e. the Alternative Semantics theory, and also to bring in hitherto unnoticed new data.

Part I of the dissertation examines argument wh-questions. Starting from Tsai’s (1999) Lexical Courtesy Hypothesis, according to which wh-movement in general should be avoided if possible, I present an analysis of Mandarin wh-in-situ within the framework of Alternative Semantics (Rooth 1985, Shimoyama 2001) which does not resort to LF movement or unselective binding. Furthermore I propose that the scope marking of questions in this theory is achieved by focus intonation. Experimental phonetic data are provided to support this important new claim.