UM Linguistics Ph.D. student Alan Ke gave two talks at the PLC40 that took place earlier this month. Alan is in his third year of study with an expressed interest in syntax, psycholinguistics, and acquisition. The proceedings that accompany these talks will be included in the Penn Working Papers. Ke is the only author on the second paper, but authored the first with UM Professors Sam Epstein, and Acrisio Pires from Linguistics and Richard Lewis from Psychology.

Alan explains his papers below:

“It was a surprise to me that both my abstracts could be accepted by PLC40. They went through a long revision process before I sent them in. These two papers touch upon the goal of my Ph.D. study here at UM. One of the goals in my training was to bring together insights from theoretical syntax and methodologies from psycholinguistics in order to answer questions such as what is the structure of the knowledge of human language (regarding adult’s knowledge status), how the knowledge is acquired (regarding the development from child to adult knowledge), and how it is used. The first paper is more on the experimental side, and the second paper is more on the theoretical side.

The first paper, titled "Syntactic Constraints on Quantifier Domains: An Experimental Study of the quantifier dou ‘all’ in Mandarin Chinese", is a psycholinguistic study on adult's knowledge of quantifier domain restriction. Which noun phrase (domain) does all associate with in ‘The pandas, the children have all seen”, "the pandas" or "the children", or both? I found that Chinese is different from English in that the noun phrase that is more distant from dou, 'the pandas', rather than the closer noun phrase "the children" is what dou prefers to quantify over. My paper explores the syntactic constraints underlying the choice of domain in this case, and meanwhile distinguishes three theories of universal quantification in Mandarin.

The second paper is "Full Phase Transfer". It was developed from my 2014 syntax term paper, where I argue for a theory that I was very excited about when it came to my mind. I consistently made some revisions to the theory after I turned the term paper in. It proposes a significant change on the framework of Minimalism initiated by Chomsky and others, especially Chomsky's recent work on phasal transfer of derived syntactic objects. I argue that this change may be able to simplify the phasal transfer theory.

Congratulations again to Alan. For more of his work, check out his homepage!