UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


Syntax Reading Group

The syntax reading group (SRG) is a group made up of mainly staff and postgraduates from the department of Phonetics and Linguistics at UCL who share an interest in minimalist syntax. Linguists from other departments or other colleges are very welcome to join us. The group meets every two weeks or so.

Each meeting has the format of a seminar, where a paper (which should be read in advance) is discussed by the participants. The different papers are chosen to cover a variety of topics which may reflect the interests and fields of specialization of the individual members of the group.

Venue: Chandler House, 2 Wakefield Street
Time: Wednesdays afternoon, times vary.

If you want to join the group or have any queries, please email Wenkai Tay - wenkai.tay.18@ucl.ac.uk

Next meeting:

Date/TimeLocation SpeakerTitle
Monday 30 May 2022,
10:00am - 12:00 noon
Chandler House
Room 116

Yanlong Xu (UCL)

Existential and locative constructions in Mandarin Chinese (Paul, Lu & Lee 2020)

Abstract: Despite previous studies, the defining characteristics of existential sentences in Chinese (including potential equivalents of locative inversion in English) have remained controversial. This is shown to be due to the failure to acknowledge the existence of two different constructions, the existential construction (ExC) ‘Ø V DP’ where a sentence-initial phrase indicating location (PlaceP) is not required, on the one hand, and the locative construction (LoC) with an obligatory PlaceP, on the other: ‘PlaceP V DP’. Only the ExC can serve as a diagnostic context for unaccusative verbs, whereas the LoC allows for a wide range of verbs, including a subset of unergative verbs. Furthermore, two types of LoC need to be distinguished, depending on the type of aspect (perfective aspect -le vs imperfective aspect -zhe), giving rise to different semantics. Both have, however, in common that the PlaceP occupies the subject position (SpecTP), not the topic position, and that it is merged in SpecTP, not moved there, as evidenced by the systematic lack of a corresponding source structure with the PlaceP in postverbal position.


  • Note that links for published papers may only work from UCL computers.