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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

East Asian Studies
Professor Emeritus in Chinese Language and Linguistics
Email address: 
Fellow of: 
Churchill College
Boping Yuan

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 has also developed interests in bilingualism/bidialectalism and wellbeing. He is currently involved in a joint project with Shanghai Jiao Tong University on bilingualism/bidialectalism and aphasia.

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 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 prestigious journals, such as Second Language Research, International Review of Applied Linguistics, Journal of Chinese Linguistics, Lingua, 《外语教学与研究》,《世界汉语教学》, 《现代外语》, etc.   

Supervision information: 

Prof. Yuan continues supervising his current PhD students in linguistic approaches to second language acquisition of Chinese and bi/multilingualism.

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, bilingualism/bidialectalism and aphasia.

Current PhD students

Hsiaoching Wang: L2 Acquisition of Wh-indeterminants in Mandarin by English and Korean Speakers.
Jingting Xiang: Definiteness and Specificity in L2/L3 Mandarin Grammars
Fei Yuan: L2 Acquisition and Processing of Chinese Nominal Phrases


Interlanguage Grammars of Mandarin Chinese Cambridge University Press (forthcoming) (2024)
Acquisition of Chinese: Bilingualism and Multilingualism John Benjamins (2020)

Articles, Book Chapters etc

Disentangling cues of different domains in transfer and development in L3 acquisition: an investigation of L2/L3 Mandarin yes-no questions Bilingualism: Language and Cognition pp. 1-13 (2024)
三语习得前沿理论及三语汉语研究 《外语教学与研究》第55 卷 第6 期 pp. 902-913 (2023)
What looks native-like may not necessarily be native-like: Evidence from L2 Chinese covert objects. Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism (2023)
The role of L1 in L2 speech production at different stages of L2 development: Evidence from L2 Chinese oral production of verb-phrase ellipsis by English and Korean speakers Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences. DOI 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.954217 (2022)
Dependency resolutions of null and overt subjects in English speakers’ L2 Chinese: evidence for the cue-based model Second Language Research, DOI: 10.1177/02676583221135189 (2022)
Asymmetric form-meaning mappings in L2 acquisition of Chinese sentence-final particles BA Journal of Chinese Linguistics, Vol. 50 (1) pp. 1-38 (2022)
论二语习得中第一语言迁移的方向性及经济性原则——以二语句法和二语语篇为例 (Directionality of first language transfer and economy principle in second language acquisition: Evidence from L2 syntax and discourse). 世界汉语教学 - Volume 36, Issue 3 pp. 379-398 (2022)
English and Spanish speakers’ interpretations of L2 Chinese applicative double object constructions International Review of Applied Linguistics (2021)
Asymmetric transfer and development of temporal-aspectual sentence-final particles in English-Cantonese bilinguals’ L3 Mandarin grammars Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism (2021)
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)
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)