Audrey Li is professor of Linguistics and East Asian Languages and Culture at the University of Southern California.
In March 2020, she joins the RFIEA Chinese Studies Program.
Chinese Syntax, South and East Asian Languages and Cultures, Linguistics.
This project examines the many questions raised by a parametric lexical or grammatical approach to linguistic variations.
The field of investigation will be broadened from the existing literature to produce more adequate empirical generalizations and provide accounts from more inclusive perspectives, including discourse and prosody, to address the inadequacy of a microparametric approach rooted in individual lexical specifications.
I have shown in a forthcoming paper in Glossa (in collaboration with Wei Wei) that there is a need to go beyond lexical parameters to obtain more adequate descriptions of interlinguistic variations and to better understand the nature of these variations. Indeed, some of the differences captured in terms of microparameters (specifications of lexical characteristics) should be re-analysed from the perspective of prosody and discourse.
The study focuses on a number of microparameters proposed as converging towards a "macroparameter of analyticity". The Taiwanese South Min (TSM) is more analytical than Mandarin, which is itself more analytical than Cantonese. In other words, these languages have different degrees of analyticity, with TSM being the highest: TSM > Mandarin > Cantonese. My work aims to show that the distinction between these languages is not as clear-cut as the one presented in the literature, which does not allow for empirical generalizations and gives false predictions.
In theory, when studies under the above-mentioned microparametric research program are mainly based on specifying the strength of characteristics (strong or weak characteristics) of certain lexical elements (lexical parameter), the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the relevant issues is lost. It will be shown that factors from the fields of syntax-phonology interface and syntax-discourse interface play an important role in the empirical generalizations obtained through extensive corpus study and field work.