About me




I am Yi-Hsun Chen. I recently graduated from the Department of Linguistics at Rutgers University (New Brunswick). I will join Nanjing University (NJU) as a research fellow in the near future.

I am interested in formal semantics, formal pragmatics, semantics-pragmatics interface, semantics-syntax interface, universals/ cross-linguistic variation in semantics, and Chinese linguistics.

Specific topics include:  scalarity, gradability, measurement, vagueness, alternatives, scalar implicatures, questions, (not-)at-issueness, information structure, argument structure and phrase structure.


My dissertation was mainly dedicaed to two puzzles posed by Superlative Modifiers in natural language: the ambiguity puzzle and the morpho-semantic puzzle. The ambiguity puzzle concerns why cross-linguistically, superlaive modifiers typically demonstrate the ambiguity between an epistemic reading and a concessive reading. The morpho-semantic puzzle concerns why cross-linguistically, quantity adjectives and degree morphology are typicaly involved in the morhological makeup of superlative modifiers.

The central goals of my dissertation are three-fold. One goal  is to provide a unified account of superlative modifiers, explaining why  they show the same ambiguity between an epistemic reading conveying speaker ignorance and a concessive reading conveying speaker concession across natural languages.

Another goal is to explain why in some languages (like English, Chinese and potentially others), the (un)availability of the two meanings is sensitive to the surface syntactic distribution of superlative modifiers.

The other goal is to offer a decompositional analysis of superlative modifiers, explaining why quantity adjectives and degree morphology are  generally involved in their morphological makeup across natural languages and why quantity adjectives seem to be the core morphological component cross-linguistically, and illustratiing how those morphological pieces are connected with the semantics of superlative modifiers.