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Ye Tian

Research Student


Principal Supervisor: Richard Breheny

Subsidary Supervisor: Andrew Nevins


My research interests lie in experimental pragmatics and psycholinguistics.

My PhD project researches how negation is processed. It is well known that negative sentences are harder to process than positives. Through a series of experiments, including probe recognition, verification and visual world eye-tracking, I challenge the current rejection based accounts, and propose a dynamic pragmatic model for negative sentence processing. My findings suggest that contextual accommodation contributes to the difficulty of negation. This process is incremental and automatic. These findings open a window to the broader question of how pragmatic information is dynamically updated during sentence processing.

In addition to my PhD project, I am also working on embedded implicatures (with Dr. Richard Breheny and Bob van Tiel, Radboud University Nijmegen), an ERP project investigating the difference between nouns and verbs (with Dr. Jyrki Tuomainen and Kevin Tang), presupposition accommodation, and the difference between assertions and polar questions.


Best student oral presentation at AMLaP (Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing) conference 2013.

Research Grants

Euro-XPrag Collaborative research in Experimental Pragmatics – travel grant for short visits (with Richard Breheny, UCL and Bob van Tiel, Radboud University Nijmegen). Local exhaustification: evaluating competing accounts in an act-out paradigm (2012 – 2013).


Tian, Y. (2008). “Not all”: we don’t have a word for it! MA dissertation, UCL.


Tian,Y., Breheny, R., & Ferguson, H. (2010). Why we simulate negated information: a dynamic pragmatic account. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63, 2305 – 2312.

Tian,Y., Breheny, R. (forthcoming). Negation processing - a dynamic pragmatic view. Negation and polarity: Cognitive and experimental perspectives, Springer.

Presentations (Conferences)
Sept 2013 XPrag (Experimental Pragmatics) Conference, Utrecht, Netherlands. Oral and poster presentation.
Sept 2013 AMLaP (Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing) Conference, Marseille, France. Oral presentation.
July 2013 ICL (The International Congress of Linguists), Geneva, Switzerland. Poster presentation.
March 2013 CUNY 2013 Conference on Human Language Processing, Columbia, USA. Poster presentation.
August 2012 Embodied and Situated Language Processing 2012, New Castle, UK. Poster presentation.
May 2012 Invited talk at Department of Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
March 2012 Psycholinguistics in the Southeast. London, UK: Oral presentation.
Sept 2010 AMLaP (Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing) Conference. York, UK: Poster presentation.
Mar 2010 Psycholinguistics in the Southeast. London, UK: Poster presentation.
Teaching Experience/Responsibilities
2012 - present

Visiting Lecturer, UCL

“Statistics for linguistics” for MA and MRes students.

“Introduction to language – skills component” to BA linguistics students (2011 – 2012)

2010 - present

Visiting Lecturer, Middlesex University

“Language and psychology” for BA English language.

“Studying English language” and “Communication techniques” for BA English language.

2011 – present

Teaching Assistant, UCL

“Logic and meaning A & B”, “Introduction to language”, and “Foundations in linguistics”.

2011 – present

Writing and Learning Mentor, UCL

Organize workshops on academic writing and learning development.

2010 -2011 Assistant Editor of UCL Linguistics Working Paper