Collegiate Affiliation

A central problem in Linguistics is determining which part of our linguistic knowledge is innate and which is acquired through exposure to the language in our environment. Research addressing this question has focused on identifying what is universally true about human languages, on the assumption that linguistic universals are potential candidates for innate linguistic knowledge. My research addresses these broad issues by investigating the extent to which there exist universal principles governing the structure and interpretation of sentences across languages. Recent topics of my research include how aspectual information (i.e., information on the temporal perspective and internal structure of events) is represented in the mind of the speaker and how meanings of discourse particles (i.e., particles used to express the speaker’s attitude towards the content of what is uttered, or the speaker's assumption about whether the content of what is uttered is known to the other discourse participant(s)) are represented. My research has focused mainly on languages spoken in East and Southeast Asia, in particular Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Hmong.

My research has received support from the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation, the Pacific Cultural Foundation, the Graduate School and the College of Liberal Arts of the University of Minnesota.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1998
  • M.A.: Linguistics, University of Calgary, 1994


  • Syntax
  • Syntax-Semantics Interface
  • Semantics