LEE, Hun-tak Thomas

LEE, Hun-tak Thomas

BA (Swarthmore Coll.); MA (HKU); PhD (UCLA)

G01, Leung Kau Kui Building Building, Main Campus,
The Chinese University of Hong Kong,
Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong.
Tel: 3943-7014, Fax: 2603-7755




Research Interests:

Language acquisition; Syntax and semantics

My interests lie in the logical problem of language acquisition and syntactic/semantic acquisition, with special reference to Mandarin-speaking and Cantonese-speaking children. My recent research has been on quantifier scope in Chinese datives, Cantonese A-quantifiers, and syntactic change in Cantonese. Below are topics I have worked on:

(a) The acquisition of quantifier scope in Mandarin-speaking children, examining children's knowledge of the isomorphic principle in the mapping between logical form and syntax, and how that knowledge may be constrained by locality principles, quantifier type, and the thematic hierarchy;

(b) The development of linguistic knowledge in Mandarin-speaking children in the transition from babbling to syntax, focusing on issues such as lexical spurt, the onset of syntactic categories, word order and argument structure; the development of preschoolers’ competence with respect to classifiers and nominal structure, A-quantifiers and negation;

(c) Syntactic and semantic development in Cantonese preschoolers, with respect to word order and argument structure, questions, pro-drop, sentence final particles, nominal structure and referentiality, additive/restrictive focus, and A-quantifiers;

(d) The relationship between language acquisition and language change, as seen from ongoing changes in the structure of the noun phrase in modern-day Hong Kong Cantonese.

A large part of my work is based on longitudinal child language data. Along with other colleagues based in Hong Kong Polytechnic University and University of Hong Kong (Colleen Wong and Sam Leung), I developed the Hong Kong Cantonese Child Language Corpus (CANCORP). Collaborating with researchers in China (Yang Xiaolu of Tsing Hua University and the late Professor Fang Li of Beijing Language and Culture University), I have built a Chinese Early Language Acquisition (CELA) corpus of children in Beijing, Changsha and Hong Kong, investigating how Chinese children acquire the core properties of the target languages from infancy to two years of age.


Selected Publications:

  • Lee, Thomas Hun-tak and Zhuang Wu. 2013. The scope of bare nouns and numeral phrases: An experimental study of child Mandarin, In Proceedings of the Fourteenth Tokyo Conference on Psycholinguistics, ed. Yukio Otsu, 137-158. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo.

  • Lee, Thomas Hun-tak. 2012. Quantificational structures in three-year-old Chinese-speaking children. In Plurality and classifiers across languages of China, ed. Dan Xu, 243-282. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Lee, Thomas Hun-tak. 2010. Nominal structure in early child Mandarin. In Chinese matters: From grammar to first and second language acquisition, eds. Chris Wilder and Tor Åfarli, 75-109. Trondheim, Norway: Tapir Academic Press.
  • 李行德,2009,粵語兒童對粵語結構分析的啟示。載錢志安、郭必之、李寶倫、鄒嘉彥主編《粵語跨學科研究:第十三屆國際粵方言研討會論文集》,1-21頁。香港: 香港城市大學語言資訊科學研究中心。
  • Huang, Aijun and Thomas Hun-tak Lee. 2009. Quantification and individuation in the acquisition of Chinese classifiers. In Proceedings of the Tenth Tokyo Conference on Psycholinguistics, ed. Yukio Otsu. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo.
  • 李行德,2008,漢語兒童對數量名詞短語轄域關係的認識。載沈陽、馮勝利主編《當代語言學理論和漢語研究》, 169-191頁。北京:商務印書館。
  • Lee, Thomas Hun-tak. 2006. A note on garden-path sentences in Chinese. In Linguistic Studies in Chinese and Neighboring Languages: festschrift in honor of Professor Pang-hsin Ting on his seventieth birthday , eds. Dah-an Ho, Samuel Cheung, Wuyun Pan and Fuxiang Wu, 491-518. Taipei: Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica.
  • Xiao, Ling, Xin Cai and Thomas Hun-tak Lee. 2006. The development of the verb category and verb argument structures before two years of age. In Proceedings of the Seventh Tokyo Conference on Psycholinguistics, ed. Yukio Otsu, 299-322. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo.
  • Lee, Thomas Hun-tak. 2003. Two types of logical structure in child language. Journal of Cognitive Science 3:155-182.
  • Lee, Thomas Hun-tak and Ann Law. 2001. Epistemic modality and the acquisition of Cantonese final particles. In Issues in East Asian language acquisition, ed. Mineharu Nakayama, 67-128. Tokyo: Kuroshio Publishers.
  • Lee, Thomas Hun-tak. 2000. Finiteness and null arguments in Child Cantonese. The Tsinghua Journal of Chinese Studies, New Series 30:365-393.
©2014 Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages, The Chinese University of Hong Kong