Eng · 繁體 · 简体

News & Events

 News & Events Home
 News and Events Archive
Research Seminar : " Licensing emptiness in noun phrases "
Jump To:
Topic:  Research Seminar : " Licensing emptiness in noun phrases "
posted itemPosted - 23/04/2008 :  13:30:10
City University of Hong Kong Dep

Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Research Seminar

Presented by

Prof. LI Yen-hui, Audrey

Professor of Linguistics and East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of Southern California


Date: 5 May 2008, Monday Time : 4:30pm - 6:00pm Venue: P4701 (4/F, Lift 1, Purple Zone), Academic Building, CityU

1. Characterizing Chinese as topic-prominent, discourse-oriented? Chinese is commonly described as a topic-prominent, discourse-oriented language. What exactly does this mean? Three widely-held assumptions will be reviewed: (1) a sentence always has a topic in Chinese; (2) a subject is a topic and therefore cannot be indefinite; and (3) “deletion” applies freely as long as the context (discourse) is clear. It will be shown that these three are not true generalizations and grammar plays a significant role in the exact characterizations. The core property of “topic-prominence” will be properly defined. Date: 13 May 2008, Tuesday Time : 4:30pm - 6:00pm Venue: P4701 (4/F, Lift 1, Purple Zone), Academic Building, CityU

2. Asymmetry in “pro-drop” in Chinese The generalization will be established that empty subjects and empty objects in Chinese differ in interpretive possibilities. Such interpretive differences are shown to be the result of general rules in the grammar interacting with each other. I will describe the application of such grammatical constraints and how empty pronouns are ruled out in object positions, and argue for the existence of a true empty category. The emptiness of such a true empty category will be supported by a variety of patterns failing to be acceptable because grammatical rules need to refer to contents non-existent in such empty positions. Date: 19 May 2008, Monday Time : 4:30pm - 6:00pm Venue: P4701 (4/F, Lift 1, Purple Zone), Academic Building, CityU

3.  Types of non-agreement pro-drop languages “Pro-drop” languages have generally been distinguished into rich-agreement and no-agreement type languages. The latter have often been represented by East Asian languages. More specifically, Chinese and Japanese have mostly been considered as the same type of pro-drop languages, neither of which has rich agreement to license an empty pronoun. However, I show that the empty pronouns in these two languages behave differently in regard to their identification requirements. The contrast can be traced to their structural difference, reflecting the general structures of overt nominal expressions in these two languages. Date: 27 May 2008, Tuesday Time : 4:30pm - 6:00pm Venue: P4704 (4/F, Lift 1, Purple Zone), Academic Building, CityU

4. Licensing emptiness in noun phrases The “head” noun of a noun phrase in Chinese can generally appear in the null form when it is preceded by a classifier or by the marker de. What is such a null “head” in a noun phrase and what licenses it? I argue that it is not a pronoun but a true empty category, an element that is devoid of features. It must be licensed by a head, which shows that de should be a head category. What is de as a head? The options that have been proposed in the literature will be evaluated: de as a determiner, light n, complementizer, special functional category labeled as Mod, and conjunction.


Yen-hui Audrey Li is Professor of Linguistics and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Southern California. She received her PhD from the University of Southern California in 1985. Her main interest is in syntax, semantics, language acquisition and pedagogy. The topics of her linguistic research include the issues related to constituency and order at the sentential and nominal level, the interpretive mechanisms in universal grammar and the well-formedness conditions on the interpretation and spell-out of syntactic structures.   Some of her major publications are: The Syntax of Chinese (2008, Cambrige Press. with James Huang, Yafei Li), Essays on the representational and derivational nature of grammar: the diversity of wh-constructions (2003, MIT Press. with Joseph Aoun). Functional Structure(s), Form and Interpretation (2003, RoutledgeCurzon Press. ed. with Andrew Simpson), New Horizons in Chinese Linguistics (1996, Kluwer Academic Publishers. ed. with James Huang), Syntax of Scope (1993, MIT Press. with J. Aoun), and Order and Constituency in Mandarin Chinese (1990, Kluwer Academic Publishers). 

~ All Are Welcome ~

CTL Technical Support


Enquiry: LTenquiry@cityu.edu.hk