Xuetong Yuan

About Me

I am a PhD candidate in linguistics at University of Connecticut. My advisor is Magdalena Kaufmann. I primarily work on semantics, pragmatics, and their interactions with prosody. I am interested in how various linguistic expressions restrict and organize discourse. To this end, I have worked on discourse particles, questions, focus and prosody, speech acts/clause types, and conditionals.


Speech acts, clause types, and discourse particles in Mandarin

In this project, I am working on exploring (non-)canonical speech acts in Mandarin, and how discourse particles may affect the conventional effects of all types of clause types.

On -ne: This project investigates the behaviours of the particle -ne in the sentence-final position along with its interactions with different clause types in Mandarin. I propose that -ne signals that the speaker believes that the current discourse move she makes is not optimal for the addressee: the speaker chooses to use -ne when the discourse agents have conflicting beliefs, or the speaker wants to redirect/reset the conversational goals.


  • Updating unexpected moves. [slides]. SuB 27.

On -ba: -ba can be attached to all kinds of clause types in Mandarin: declaratives, interrogatives, and imperatives. I am looking at the behaviors of -ba, how it interacts with its prejacent, and its interactions with intonation.


  • A discourse model for Mandarin ba-interrogatives. [slides]. SuB 24 & GLOW in Asia XII
  • Extracting commitment: the case of Mandarin rising ba-declaratives. [paper]. SuB 25.
  • Establishing discourse relations: two contrastive markers in Mandarin. [slides]. CLS 58, GLOW 45, TLLM 2022.

Agreement in imperative clauses in Mandarin

While imperative/jussive clauses are known to have interaction with (null) subjects, verbal morphology, and clause embeddability as well as speaker/addressee projections, whether objects interact with jussive clauses is, however, less understood. This study reports such a case of interaction with objects, which is observable in a particular movement context. The core data comes from non-agreeing resumptive pronouns (NRPs) in Mandarin Chinese. The NRP exhibits a multifaceted empirical profile that involves (i) licensing by jussive clauses, (ii) patient roles of objects, and (iii) movement-derived properties. We argue that the intricate pattern can be accounted for by an Agree relation between the NRP and jussive head, coupled with interface conditions on partial Copy Deletion. This account sheds light on how clause types (i.e. jussives) interact with argument structure.


  • Jussive agreement with non-agreeing resumptive pronouns in Mandarin Chinese with Ka-Fai Yip. [handout]. BCGL16.
  • Agreement in imperative clauses: evidence from object resumptive pronouns in Mandarin Chinese with Ka-Fai Yip. NELS 54.

Additivity and Concessivity

Additive particles in conditionals can be used to express concessive meaning cross-linguistically (i.e. Even if…). In this project, we are interested in the connection between additive meaning and concessive meaning in/outside conditionals. We also look at the other functions of additive particles especially in Japanese and Mandarin.


  • Stronger Additivity Derives Concessivity with Yusuke Yagi. [slides]. PLC 46 & TaLK 2022.
  • Additive Prejecent and/or Additive Alternatives: A Principle and a Parameter in Mandarin and Japanese with Yusuke Yagi. [slides]. GLOW 45.

Mandarin post-focal compression and right dislocation

In this project, I am interested in the post-focal prosodic patterns in Mandarin. I am also interested in the syntax-prosody mapping in Mandarin right dislocation.


  • Defocus leads to syntax-prosody mismatches in right dislocated structures with Ka-Fai Yip. [slides] CLS 59.

Speech verb shuo

shuo is a saying verb in Mandarin. It can function as a plain complementizer in embedded clauses, or behave as a reportative evidential in matrix clauses. I am particularly interested in how shuo behaves in matrix clauses, as well as its interaction with emotive predicates.


  • On matrix shuo in Mandarin with Hiroaki Saito. [paper]. NACCL 32.