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Overt and Covert Arguments in Chinese and their Acquisition by English Speakers

Research Seminars on Chinese Linguistics & Chinese as a Second Language

Lent Term, 2017

LogoThe Research Seminars on Chinese Linguistics and Chinese as a Second Language ("L2 Chinese") are held by the L2 Chinese research group of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. The aim of these seminars is to provide a platform for researchers to discuss recent developments in the field, to present their work and to receive feedback from fellow researchers. The seminars are supervised by Dr Boping Yuan.

All are welcome!

  • Friday, 17th March, 2017 at 2pm in Room 7 at the Faculty
    Please note the earlier than usual start time!
    Overt and Covert Arguments in Chinese and their Acquisition by English Speakers 
    Lilong Xu


One of the differences between Chinese and English is that the former allows both null subjects and null objects in finite sentences, the latter allows neither. Besides, in Chinese, it has been found that Chinese-speakers display an asymmetry of null objects and null subjects. So far, there have been debates about the property of the null arguments in Chinese. Reviewing the previous studies which take null argument as a pro or a variable, the study concentrates on radical pro-drop theory and analyzes null arguments from two derivations, one as silent pronouns,and the other as the results of ellipsis. As an experimental study that investigates the mental representation of Chinese null subjects and null objects in L2 grammar, the study further tests whether the asymmetry of null subjects and null objects found in Chinese L1 also exists in English speakers’ L2 Chinese.


For further information, contact:

Ruyi Dai
PhD Student, Chinese Studies
Department of East Asian Studies