SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics

Julia An-Lun Cheng

BA in Music (Trinity College of Music, UK), MA in English (Colorado State University, USA), MA in Linguistics (University of Colorado at Boulder)
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Julia An-Lun Cheng
Julia An-Lun Cheng
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Thesis title:
An Investigation of the Constraints on Nominal Argument Drop in Mandarin Chinese Using Spoken Corpora
Internal Supervisors


Julia has MA degrees in both English and Linguistics: English from Colorado State University and Linguistics from University of Colorado at Boulder. Her thesis for MA English was ‘Exploitation of The Gricean Maxims in Narrative Jokes’. Apart from doing research, she also loves language teaching. She speaks three languages: Mandarin, Taiwanese and English, and was an English lecturer in Taiwan for seven years.

PhD Research

The focus of Julia’s research is to investigate the constraints on nominal argument drop in Mandarin Chinese using spoken data. The thesis hypothesizes that:

(1) Argument drop in Mandarin discourse revolves around animacy of the argument, verb semantics, discourse context and referential relationships.

(2)  Argument drop in Mandarin discourse is both clause-internally and clause-externally conditioned.

It proposes the following main research question and five sub-questions:

Main research question:  What are the constraints on argument drop – both subject argument drop and object argument drop in Mandarin Chinese discourse?

1. Is there a correlation between the expression of subject and object as lexical NPs and the lexical semantics of verbs, i.e. do certain types of verbs such as labile verbs trigger, or at least facilitate the drop of subject arguments and/or object arguments?

2. Does animacy play a significant role in argument drop?
3. Is subject-drop and object-drop always licensed by an antecedent?
4. Is definiteness or specificity of the intended referent a factor in argument drop?
5. Does clause level aspect play a role in the appearance and disappearance of noun phrase? For instance, are noun phrases occurring in clauses that also contain the perfective marker le more or less likely to be dropped?

PhD Conferences

Jun 2014    The Third International Symposium on Chinese Language and Discourse   
                  (Birkbeck, University of London)

Oral Presentation: ‘Exploring the Concept of Grammatical Relations in Mandarin Chinese Using Real Conversational Data’

Jun 2014     Olomouc Linguistics Colloquium    (Palacky University, Czech Republic)

Oral Presentation: ‘Distant Reference Tracking of Chinese Nominal Classifiers’

Feb 2013  5th Biennial Meeting of the Rice Linguistic Society
               (Rice University Texas, USA)

Oral Presentation: ‘Exploring the Concept of Grammatical Relations in Mandarin Chinese
                              Using Real Conversational Data’