I'm currently a PhD candidate working in the Linguistik/Germanistik department of the University of Stuttgart, under the supervision of Professor Dr. Daniel Hole. My dissertation, On shi and de in Mandarin: clefts and beyond, provides a comprehensive comparison between the Mandarin shi...de cleft and bare-shi cleft through an analysis of their syntax, semantics and pragmatics, combining both theoretical and experimental perspectives.
I'm interested in seeking different precise ways to quantify interlocutors' presumptions about their beliefs, and to predict which utterances or actions they may prefer. So far, Rational Speech Act (RSA)-based modeling has been a good friend and a fruitful formalism for exploring this topic. For example, me and my collaborators investigated a class of speaker-oriented items which signal prior-posterior differences during the interaction between the speaker and the listener. We were able to formulate their use under a Bayesian framework, in which the participants' knowledge states are represented probabilistically.
I'm looking forward to seeing how these models can be applied to epistemic adverbs which have the property of being intrinsically vague.
Additionally, I'm looking forward to using other behavioral-driven methods to approach the above question. Acceptability judgment tasks and self-paced reading tasks have been helping me to understand how others interpret sentences, i.e. how natural participants find different sentences and if they need more reading time to interpret some sentences. I have been thinking of designing other interactive approaches to understanding these intrinsically vague meanings, e.g. a combination of a betting game and picking balls out of urns, where participants have partial information but need to guess the rest of the information, when their game money is at stake. Mouse-driven picture verification tasks and eye-tracking tasks are both useful online measurements that I intend to learn more about in the near future.
I was trained as a semanticist focusing on diachronic semantics before my PhD life. This training helped me develop a semantic analysis that derives a weak exhaustive inference in Mandarin clefts through an anaphoric relation to a maximal plurality in the prior discourse. Following the guidence of my supervisor, I have encountered a great amount of work on minimalist syntax. Using this, I proposed a novel syntactic analysis that unifies the two Mandarin cleft constructions, building upon the framework of copular structures in relation to small clauses.
I'm eager to see if these proposals can be combined together and tested: a small-clause-based copular syntax predicts that the felicity of cleft constructions should be related to the mention-some or mention-all reading of precedeing wh-questions.