- The foundations and ontological organization of syntactic categories (noun, verb, tense, etc.)
- Linguistic feature theories across paradigms (e.g., Minimalist Program, HPSG) and their logic
- Category theory and its application in linguistics (especially in relation to syntactic categories or types)
- Noncore linguistic phenomena (e.g., emotion, register) and their syntacticization
Some grammatical phenomena I have previously investigated:
- Complex/compound word structure (or word-internal syntax)
- Grammatical and lexical aspects (or Aktionsarten)
- Event structure and predicate decomposition
- Semifunctional vocabulary items (which are very common in analytic languages)
- Sentence-final discourse particles (including emojis)
The close attention I have paid to word-internal structures makes my expertise lie somewhere between syntax and morphology (i.e., around the syntax-morphology interface). I also have a growing interest in mathematical linguistics.
Beyond my major area, I am interested in the following broader topics:
I received my bachelor's degree (BA) from Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) and both my master's degree (MPhil) and my doctoral degree (PhD) from University of Cambridge (Gonville & Caius College). My degree projects are as follows:
- PhD dissertation (defended with no corrections). 2019. On the formal flexibility of syntactic categories. [abstract, archived version]
- PhD first-year report. 2016. A minimalist study of complex verb formation: Cross-linguistic patterns and variation. [full text]
- MPhil thesis (86%, high distinction). 2015. Structural variation in Chinese compound verbs: A comparative study of Standard Mandarin and Dongying Dialect. [full text]
- BA dissertation (grade: outstanding). 2013. A magyar és a német igekötők összehasonlítása szintaktikai és szemantikai szempontból [A comparison of Hungarian and German verbal prefixes from syntactic and semantic perspectives]. [full text in Hungarian, English version tbc]
2019. ViaX one-on-one tutoring (high school student). Syntax.
In this 20-hour online course I taught a Chinese high school student the basics of generative syntax and guided them to produce an 8000-word research paper on discourse factors involved in the distribution of null subjects in Mandarin Chinese. The course and the paper were both in English. The paper got accepted into the International Conference on Foreign Language Education and Linguistics (FLEL 2019) as an oral presentation and was subsequently published in Open Journal of Social Sciences.
2017–2018. Cambridge undergraduate supervision (second-year students). Li9: Syntax.
From University website: “Supervisions are small-group sessions ... with a supervisor (an academic) .... This system of personal tuition is one of Cambridge’s greatest strengths. Supervisions provide the opportunity to explore your subject more deeply, discuss your own work and ideas, and receive regular feedback.”
2016–2017. Cambridge undergraduate supervision (first-year students). Li2: Structure and Meaning.
Below is a list of my academic publications:
- Under revision. Recategorization blocks verb movement: Revisiting non-inverting particle verbs in Hungarian. [manuscript, comments welcome]
- 2018. Severing telicity from result: On two types of resultative compound verb in Dongying Mandarin. Journal of East Asian Linguistics, 27(3), 275–307.
- 2017. Prosodically-driven morphosyntactic change? Revisiting the history of Chinese disyllabic words. Cambridge Occasional Papers in Linguistics 10, 152–196.
- 2016. 生成句法框架内的匈牙利语动词前缀句法特征和语序研究 [A study of the syntactic characteristics and word orders of Hungarian verbal prefixes within the generative framework]. 《欧洲语言文化研究（第8辑）》[Chinese Journal of European Languages and Cultures (vol. 8)].
- To appear. Categorizing verb-internal modifiers. In T. Biberauer, S. Vikner, A. Bárány & J. Douglas (eds.) Clausal architecture and its consequences: Synchronic and diachronic perspectives. Berlin: Language Science Press. [Here is the prepublication manuscript (Song 2017).]
- 2017. Revisiting non-inverting particle verbs in Hungarian. International Conference on the Structure of Hungarian (ICSH) 13. Budapest, June 29–30. [slides]
- 2017. There is no root-root merger: Revisiting Chinese non-endocentric compounds. Roots V Workshop. London, June 17–18. [slides][manuscript, comments welcome]
- 2017. Revisiting Chinese P: Is it a necessary category? Morphosyntactic Variation in Adpositions Workshop. Cambridge, May 8–9. [slides]
- 2017. Emergent [V] flavors and minimized flexibility of lexical categories. Cambridge Comparative Syntax (CamCoS) 6. Cambridge, May 4–6. [slides]
- 2016. Blocked particle verb movement in German and Hungarian: A unified analysis. Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB) Annual Meeting. York, Sep 6–9. [slides]
- 2016. Rethinking complex verb formation: Three levels of derivation and their effects. 13th Workshop on Syntax, Semantics and Phonology (WoSSP). Barcelona, Jun 30–Jul 1. [slides]
- 2016. Revisiting Chinese potential constructions: Cross-dialectal variation. 11th Newcastle Postgraduate Conference in Linguistics. Newcastle, Mar 18. [slides]
- 2016. Syntax of Aktionsart. Linguistic Variation in the Interaction between Internal and External Syntax Workshop. Utrecht, Feb 8–9. [slides]
Cambridge SyntaxLab talks
- 2019. Granularity in generative syntax and why it matters. Oct 15. [slides]
- 2019. More than abstract nonsense: A Category-theoretic sketch of the syntactic category system. Jan 29. [slides]
- 2018. Root-supported categories and their morphosyntactic characteristics. May 1. [handout for Part I][slides for Part II]
- 2017. The flexibility of categorial features: Types and consequences. Feb 7. [slides]
- 2019. Adjunction in minimalism: Ideas and ideals. Minilecture at Zhejiang University. Hangzhou, Nov 11. [slides]
- 2019. Towards a nontrivial notion of granularity in generative syntax. Talk at Zhejiang University. Hangzhou, Nov 11. [slides]
- 2017. From bedtime to spacetime : The hidden language behind compound words. Talk at Gonville & Caius Graduate Research Symposium. Oct 22. [slides]
- 2017. Universal Grammar and where to find it. Gonville & Caius MCR/SCR talk.2 May 30. [slides][archive]
- 2016. Event and its aspects: How do different languages talk about events with their verbs? Talk at Cambridge Festival of Ideas Linguistics Day. Oct 22. [slides]
- 2016. On the edge of verb shell: What makes complex verbs so versatile? Gonville & Caius Graduate Research Symposium ("Caius to the Future"). May 8. [poster]3
- 2020. Grammatical types that cannot be: A category-theoretic theorem for Chomsky-school generative syntax. Virtual poster at the Applied Category Theory conference (ACT2020). Online, Jul 6–10. [extended abstract, blog post, explainer video, poster]
- 2020. Complex verb mobility in Germanic languages: Variation and parameterization. Talk at Zhejiang University. Online, Jun 19. [slides]
Here is some other stuff I have produced in the past five years or so:
Selected blog posts
- Jun 2020. A new application of category theory in linguistics. On I-Yuwen. New
- Apr 2020. Generative grammar for I Ching divination. On I-Yuwen. New
- Feb 2020. Bilingualism helps prevent dementia? And a remark on “scholarly longevity”. On I-Yuwen.
- Dec 2019. Learning programming languages like natural languages: Is it a good idea? On I-Yuwen.
- Oct 2019. Why are apples so beloved (linguistically)? On I-Yuwen.
- Aug–Sep 2019. Category theory notes series. On I-Yuwen.
- Sep 2019. Language in a Qing-Dynasty polyglot’s eyes. On I-Yuwen.
- Aug 2019. Fictional languages and the linguistic view in Three-Body. On I-Yuwen.
- May 2017. The syntax of emoji? On CamLangSci.
- Aug 2016. “By the media criticizes you”?! Bei, ba, and light verbs in Chinese. On CamLangSci.
- 2016 (together with Craig Pearson and Toby Smith). Talk with Your Hands: Communicating across the Sensory Spectrum. Short film made for Cambridge Festival of Ideas. [video][webpage][news]
This interdisciplinary project was funded by the highly competitive Wellcome Trust ISSF and was one of the four short films selected into the 2016 Cambridge Shorts series. The film introduces the amazing multimodal characteristic of human language by interviewing blind/deaf people and bringing together insights from a neuroscientist and a linguist. It also features a sign language version of the famous Chinese poem Zài Bié Kāng Qiáo (再別康橋, ‘Saying Goodbye to Cambridge Again’) by Zhimo Xu (徐志摩).3.5
I attended the 2016 San Sebastián (Donostia) summer school (“Codefest”) on natural language processing and developed a morphological analyzer for Hungarian, which can automatically analyze the morphosemantic components of inflected words as well as generate orthographically correct words based on abstract linguistic representations. [code]
My nonlinguistic essay entitled “Scenery depiction in Classical Chinese poetry: Strategies, effects, and motivation” won the 2016 Master's Essay Prize of Gonville & Caius College. You can find the essay here.