MA and PhD theses | Morphological variation in Japanese
A new OT | Tone and nasality | Accent on tone
 Loanwords | Segmental variation in Japanese | Personal names
On the acquisition of L2 phonology

MA and PhD theses

I am (co-)supervising a number of PhD theses at Shanghai International Studies University and abroad.


  • PhD:
  • Wu Minghui (SISU, May 2016): The Role of Linguistic Experience in the Speech Perception of Non-Native Sounds: The Perception of English Speech Contrasts by L3 Learners in Chinese Multilingual Contexts
  • Luo Mingqiong (SISU, May 2014): Chinese Syllable Structure: An X-bar Approach
  • Marjoleine Sloos (University of Groningen, Netherlands, February 2013): Phonological Grammar and Frequency: An Integrated Approach. Evidence from German, Indonesian, and Japanese
  • Yu Wenting (SISU, May 2012): Monitoring and Self-Repair Patterns in Consecutive Interpretation. A Corpus Study Based on Students’ Consecutive Interpreting Examination Performance
  • Cheng Bing (SISU, May 2010): The Relation between Speech Perception and Production in Adult Learners of English as a Second Language - Implications for Phonetic Training

In progress:

  • Ran Yunyun (SISU): Interaction lexical tone and (L2) intonation
  • Zhang Yuan (SISU): Interaction between different lexical tone systems and L2 English intonation
  • Li Yi'ou (SISU): On Exceptions in tone sandhi
  • Song Zhenjun (SISU):On compromising theoretical and cognitive phonology
  • Yin Ruihua (SISU): Sonority: An Investigation of Assimilation Processes in Korean
  • Firdos Atta (SISU/CSC): The Phonology of Saraiki
  • Yang Zhongwei (SISU): History, Present and Future of English Strong Verbs
  •  Finished MA theses at SISU:
  • Zhang Xiao (2016): The Contribution of Written Corrective Feedback to Language Appropriacy in EFL Writing: A Five-Month Investigation
  • Wang Lu (2016): A Contrastive Analysis of Mandarin and Japanese Syllable Structure Based on Optimality Theory
  • Tong Ling (2016): Sound Symbolism in Brand Naming
  • Wu Weicheng (2016): A Comparative Study of Denominal Verbs in Chinese and English
  • Lü Hongjian (2014): English Accent Features of Chinese English Learners, a Phonetic Experiment and a Comparison Across Different English Accents
  • Hong Xiang (2014): The Study of Loanword Phonology: The Transliteration of Sanskrit Sutras
  • Qibi Xinyue (2014): Aspiration Errors in Chinese Learners of English
  • Zhu Haibin (2013): An analysis of synthetic and analytic comparative formation in English
  • Fan Wenbin (2013): The prosodic structure of the German and the French language and its representation in music: A contrastive study
  • Liu Zechen (2013): A study of Mandarin garden path sentences
  • Dong Di (2013): Musical pitch processing and foreign language intonation imitation
  • Wang Jing (2013): Tonal and phonotactic adaptation of English loanwords in Cantonese
  • Wu Minghui (2012): An OT Account of liquid (l, r) Adaptation in Chinese Loanword Phonology
  • Wang Mingjue (2012): A Study of Chinese Swear Word Usage on the internet
  • Yan Beili (2012): Personal Name Identification in an Unknown Language
  • Yuan Minxing (2011): The Influence of L1 Background on Learning Mandarin Tones
  • Xu Zhaoben (2011): An Optimality Theory Analysis of Tone Sandhi in Trisyllabic Compounds in the Chongming Dialect

Many more MA theses in progress! Get in touch if you have an idea or require inspiration!

Morphological variation in Japanese

Together with Tetsuo Nishihara, I guest-edited a special issue of the journal Lingua on the topic of morphological variation in Japanese. Included are papers which border on the morphology-phonology interface, the morphology-syntax/semantics interface, dialect variation in accent assignment, and historical variation and change. Variety/variation/variability is the spice of life! This issue appeared in 2010 (in Lingua 120, 2319-2423).


Combining Optimality Theory and Exemplar Theory

In the Kaken project on "Autonomy, harmony and typology" applied for by Prof. Haraguchi (Meikai University, Japan), I try to combine current phonological theory with results in psycholinguistics. I presented a first version of this theory at the 13th International Conference of Contemporary Linguistics (2010) in Shanghai, at East China Normal University (keynote address) and shorter results in Korea and elsewhere. This project is still very much in progress. A monograph on this topic was published in 2012 by Kougaku Publishers in Nagoya. See publications for results and talks on this topic.

Tone and nasality

In 2009, my "Oriental Scholar" project proposal was awarded by the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission. In this project I wish to investigate the interaction between tone and nasality (i.e. nasal vowels and consonants and rules of vowel nasalization) in a variety of situations: in synchronic grammars, in the history of languages, and from a sociolinguistic perspective. There are three subprojects:

  • Tone on oral and nasal vowels - a phonetic and cross-linguistic investigation. This will be a synchronic project documenting the occurrence (and distributional restrictions) of tone on vowels in languages that have oral and nasal vowels.
  • The role of nasals in tonogenesis - this project will examine a number of cases of tonogenesis around the world, paying special attention to the role of nasals.
  • Tone and nasalization - here there will be three subprojects, each focusing on one Chinese dialect with an ongoing rule of vowel nasalization, finding out the interaction with tone.

All projects are clearly interrelated and will require a strong team. Anyone interested is encouraged to contact me.

Accent on Tone

This project, resulting from a conference on phonology and phonetics that was held here in Shanghai in May 2010, aims at shedding just a little bit more light on the interaction between higher prosodic units. e.g. tone and stress, intonation and tone, etc. Recently instrumental techniques have become available that make the investigation of such interactions more possible, and recent theories are also able to address the interaction between these factors (as opposed to their individual characteristics) in a more coherent way. This collection of papers was accepted by the international journal The Linguistic Review (Mouton de Gruyter), and was published as their first issue of 2012.

TLR - journalContents:

– Marc Brunelle, Kieu Phuong Ha & Martine Grice: Intonation in Northern Vietnamese
– Yueh-chin Chang & Feng-fan Hsieh: Tonal coarticulation in Malaysian Hokkien: A typological anomaly?
– Carlos Gussenhoven & Frank van den Beuken: Contrasting the High Rise and the Low Rise intonations in a dialect with the Franconian tone: The case of Helden (Netherlands)
– Haruo Kubozono: Word-Level vs. Sentence-Level Prosody in Koshikijima Japanese
– Yi Xu, Szu-wei Chen & Bei Wang: Prosodic focus with and without post-focus compression: A typological divide within the same language family?


There is much to learn from loanwords. How do they get integrated into the recipient language? What is the role of grammar and usage? Is there a relation between second-language learning and loanword integration? These were some of the questions discussed at a conference held in Shanghai in May 2012. A special issue on this topic is now in preparation.

Segmental variation in Japanese

This Coverproject, which formed the topic of a workshop in Japan in October 2010, aims at investigating a number of aspects of Japanese segmental phonology (as opposed to prosodic changes, dialect differences between accent assignment, etc.). Of course, segmental rules are often also tied inextricably to morphological factors and to prosody, so that these aspects still play an important role. A third factor linked to variation is loanword incorporation, and this will also be covered. This study will draw attention to new data in several aspects and aims at giving variation a proper place in phonological theory. The end result of this project will be published in January 2013 by Kaitakusha Publishers, Tokyo. Table of contents is here (PDF).

Personal names

Personal names are special and interesting in so many ways: they are spelled differently from common nouns in many languages and they have many special syntactic, semantic and pragmatic properties. Are they also phonetically different from common nouns? This is a question which I focus on in joint research with Joost van de Weijer (Lund University), Yan Beili (in her MA thesis, see above) and others.

On the acquisition of L2 Phonology
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