Syntax & semantics

Quantifier doubling (concord)

Universal concord

  • I show that universal elements also have concord, on a par with negative concord. Focusing on the suffix -can ‘whenever’ in Cantonese and mei…dou ‘every’ in Mandarin, I argue for a syntactic agreement analysis of universal concord. I also discuss the relevance of minimality effects.
  • A related discussion on the scopal behaviour of the verbal suffix -can ‘whenever’ in Cantonese.

Doubling exclusivity

  • I investigate the doubling phenomenon of exlcusive focus particles in Cantonese and seek for a compositional account.

Adverbial clauses

Internal syntax

[with Zhuo Chen]

  • We argue that adverbial clauses may be derived by either operator movement or merging an in-situ operator at the highest CP. These two strategies are attested in both central and peripheral adverbial clauses, calling for a finer typology of adverbial clauses.
    • Mandarin|(please email me for the handout)
  • A related discussion on reducing the external syntax to the internal syntax in terms of operator merging sites.


  • I investigate 11 Cantonese converbs (i.e. affixes that only occur in adverbial clauses) and show that converbal clauses conform with the central-peripheral distinction just as regular adverbial clauses.


Hyperraising, evidentiality and phase deactivation

[with Tommy Tsz-Ming LEE]

  • We show that raising out of a finite clause (i.e. hyperraising) is correlated with indirect evidence cross-linguistically, and how the correlation may be accounted for under a phase-deactivation approach.

Modal movement licensed by focus

[with Tommy Tsz-Ming LEE]

  • We propose that root modals in Chinese can undergo movement when crossing a focused element, and the movement is constrained by output economy regarding focus set calculation.

Syntax-phonology interface

PF: Copy Deletion

Discontinuous predicates

[with Sheila Shu-Laam CHAN & Tommy Tsz-Ming LEE]

  • Focusing on discontinuous predicates, we propose that Copy Deletion may interact with syllable deletion and apply partially. Micro-variations between Cantonese and Mandarin are also addressed.

Non-agreeing resumption

[with Comfort Ahenkorah]

  • Drawing evidence from non-agreeing resumptive pronouns, we argue that Copy Deletion can apply in a partial fashion and spell out the lower copy of a movement chain as default pronouns.

Prosodic domains

Right dislocation

  • Based on acoustic data, I study the mapping from clauses to intonational phrases in right dislocation. I also discuss micro-variations in Cantonese and Mandarin which are attributable to their prosodic differences.

Corpus linguistics

Metaphorization and variations

Differential metaphorization and grammaticalization

[with Benjamin K. TSOU]

  • With a case study on Chinese light verbs, we explore different dimensions involving gradation of metaphorization process and provide a general schema of metaphorization.
  • We offer a novel dynamic perspective to language variations with a process-based approach. Drawing data from LIVAC, we discuss parallel and differential developments of metaphorization process in varieties of Modern Standard Chinese.


Cantonese learning: CanTONEse

[with Mei-ying KI & Yik-Po LAI]