Xuetong Yuan

About Me

I am a PhD candidate in linguistics at University of Connecticut. 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.

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. 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.