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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

 
East Asian Studies
Professor Emeritus in Chinese Language and Linguistics
(retired in September 2021)
Email address: 
Fellow of: 
Churchill College
Boping Yuan
Biography: 

Boping Yuan became a worker in a carpentry workshop in China after his secondary school, and was among those first groups of people who entered universities when universities re-opened in China after the ten-year Cultural Revolution. He read English language and literature as an undergraduate at Yantai Normal University (now Ludong University), China, from 1978 to 1982. Then he taught English as a foreign language at universities in China and on the China Central Television. In 1986, he entered Shanghai Jiaotong University, China, and did postgraduate studies in Applied Linguistics. In 1988, he got a scholarship from the British Council to study at Edinburgh University, where he first studied for an M.Sc. in Applied Linguistics and then for a Ph.D. in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics. In 1992, he came to Cambridge, where he taught and did research in Chinese language and linguistics for 29 years before he retired from the University in September 2021.

Boping Yuan’s research interests are in linguistic approaches to second/third language acquisition, particularly in non-native language acquisition of Chinese in the framework of formal linguistics, with particular attention paid to initial, developmental and final stages in non-native language acquisition of Chinese and taking into account important factors involved such as language transfer, linguistic complexity involved, availability and salience of positive evidence, quality and quantity of input, etc.  

He was Vice President of the International Society of Chinese Language Teaching in 2005-2009, and has been serving as a member of its executive committee since 2010. He is also an executive committee member of the International Association of Chinese Linguistics. He is the General Editor of Journal of Second Language Studies (John Benjamins), and has been serving as a member of editorial boards of a number of international journals, such as Second Language Research, International Review of Applied Linguistics, Journal of Chinese Linguistics, Chinese Teaching in the World, etc. He is also an advisor to Second Language, British Chinese Language Teaching Society, Singapore Centre for Chinese as a Second Language.  

Teaching responsibilities: 

Dr Yuan taught and directed the modern Chinese language programme at the undergraduate level. He also supervised graduate students in linguistic approaches to bilingualism and multilignualism in Chinese contexts.

Supervision information: 

Dr Yuan supervised research students in linguistic approaches to second language acquisition of Chinese and bi/multi-lingualism.

Research interests: 

Empirical studies of developmental and synchronic aspects of second language acquisition, bilingualism and multilingualism; linguistic approaches to non-native Chinese grammars; second language acquisition theory; formal linguistics; syntax and semantics.

Current PhD students

Mr Tongkun Liu: Interfaces in the Chinese ba Construction and Their Representations in Second Language Learners' L2 Chinese Mental Grammars
Miss Manyun Liu: Chinese Reflexive 'ziji' in Second Language Acquisition, Heritage Language, and First Language Attrition
Ms Hsiaoching Wang: L2 Acquisition of Wh-indeterminants in Mandarin by English and Korean Speakers.
Miss Jingting Xiang: Definiteness and Specificity in L2/L3 Mandarin Grammars
Mr Fei Yuan: The Third Language Acquisition of English Negative Polarity Items by Ethnic Koreans in China
Chenyang Zhang: L2 acquisition of empty verbs in Mandarin Chinese by English-speaking learners

Articles, Book Chapters etc

Roles of positive and indirect negative evidence in L2 feature reassembly: An empirical study of L2 acquisition of Chinese and Thai collective markers Journal of Second Language Studies 3.2 pp. 205-232 (2020)
Definiteness constraint on subjects in L2 and L3 Mandarin grammars: Empirical evidence concerning the source of transfer in L3 acquisition. Journal of Second Language Studies 3.2 pp. 233-260 (2020)
Facilitative Transfer Only? L3 Acquisition of Mandarin Sentence-Final Particle Clusters by English-Cantonese Bilinguals Journal of Second Language Studies 3.2 pp. 261-289 (2020)
An incremental model of second language speech production mechanisms: Developmental evidence from object ellipsis in second language Chinese speech production International Journal of Bilingualism, 24 pp. 783-810 (2020)
Transfer at L3 initial stages: comparing Mandarin temporal- aspectual sentence final particles in L2 and L3 grammars International Journal of Chinese Language Education 6 pp. 65-84 (2019)
Directionality and complexity of L1 transfer in L2 acquisition: Evidence from L2 Chinese discourse International Review of Applied Linguistics 57(4) pp. 377-416 (2019)
Computational Complexity and L1 Transfer in L2 Chinese Attitude-bearing Questions Chinese Teaching in the World 1 pp. 85-104 (2017)
Can L2 sentence processing strategies be native-like? Evidence from English speakers’ L2 processing of Chinese base-generated-topic sentences Lingua 191-192 pp. 42-64 (2017)
Computational Complexity and L1 Transfer in L2 Chinese attitude-bearing questions [in Chinese] Chinese Teaching in the World, 1 pp. 85-104 (2017)
Can L2 sentence processing strategies be native-like? Evidence from English speakers’ L2 processing of Chinese base-generated-topic sentences Lingua, 191-192 pp. 42-64 (2017)
Uneven reassembly of tense, telicity and discourse features in L2 acquisition of the Chinese shì … de cleft construction by adult English speakers Second Language Research 32:2 pp. 247-276 (2016)
Uneven reassembly of tense, telicity and discourse features in L2 acquisition of the Chinese shì … de cleft construction by adult English speakers Second Language Research, 32 pp. 247-276 (2016)
Interfaces in second language acquisition of Chinese Modern Foreign Languages 38:1 pp. 58-72 (2015)
The effect of computational complexity on L1 transfer: Evidence from L2 Chinese attitude-bearing wh-questions Lingua 167 pp. 1-18 (2015)
‘Wh-on-earth’ in Chinese speakers’ L2 English: Evidence of dormant features Second Language Research 30:4 pp. 515-549 (2014)
"WH"-Topicalization at the Syntax-Discourse Interface in English Speakers' L2 Chinese Grammars Studies in Second Language Acquisition 34 pp. 533-560 (2012)
Is Chinese ‘daodi’ ‘the hell’ in English speakers’ L2 acquisition of Chinese daodi … wh … questions? Effects and recoverability of L1 transfer at L2 interfaces International Journal of Bilingualism 17:4 pp. 403-430 (2012)
Domain-wide or variable-dependent vulnerability of the semantics—syntax interface in L2 acquisition? Evidence from wh-words used as existential polarity words in L2 Chinese grammars Second Language Research 26:2 pp. 219-260 (2010)
Asymmetric syntactic and thematic reconfigurations in English speakers’ L2 Chinese resultative compound constructions International Journal of Bilingualism 15:1 pp. 38-55 (2010)