A series of investigative efforts into the syntax, semantics, and morphology of Mandarin Chinese directional constructions

Plan Author

  • Matthew Czuba, 2016

Fields of Concentration

  • Languages

Sample Courses

Project Description

A first approximation between syntax and semantics pertaining to Mandarin Chinese complex directional constructions.

Faculty Sponsors

  • Grant Li

Outside Evaluator

  • C.-T. James Huang, Harvard University


This Plan seeks to investigate what have traditionally been referred to in the literature as Mandarin Chinese ‘directional complements.’ The overarching assumption of this work is that the directed motion phenomena presently under investigation, exemplified by two canonical instantiations of ‘directional complements,’ can and should be pursued through an analysis that takes them to be predictable, phenotypic expressions of a unified construction class referred to as ‘complex directional constructions.’ The Plan explores the use of these CDCs, reviews relevant literature and typological considerations, and lays out “a first approximation” of a unified structural analysis.


“Mandarin is well known as a predominantly isolating language whose high level of analyticity and relatively low implementation of overt morphology8 sometimes generates considerable difficulty in distinguishing between morphological and syntactic phenomena. Despite such typological properties, the language does make use of what appears to be quite reliable processes of inflection and derivation. Also productive in the language is a compound formation, as evidenced by a rich inventory of lexicalized compounds.”

“It is worthy of mentioning that linguistic inquiry does not function in a continuum. As such, it should be expected that the contributions by these authors to the study of (Mandarin) Chinese syntax are reflective of distinct styles and sometimes couched in frameworks that may be independent of one another in some respects, even if the differences are quite nuanced. I take this to be an important feature in the productive study of Language: linguists must often integrate works that may be distant in their motivations, technologies, and methodologies; works which inevitably arrive at unique conclusions. The process of finding and integrating the value of others’ work into one’s own puzzles is part of what makes the study of language so exciting and rewarding.”


“The inspiration for my Plan was the mystery and complexity of language, and the Chinese language in particular. I enjoy exploring the pain and pleasure of the human mind, including those of my friends and family, and the scholarly tradition leading up to and following the cognitive revolution of the 1950s.”

“I attempt to produce work as close as possible to the standard of professional researchers in the fields of professional linguists and the cognitive sciences. My work has the potential to contribute to the scholarly investigation of the faculty of human language, as well as the potential to grow into the type of ongoing studies that constitute a fulfilling career in linguistic research.”