East Asian Languages & Cultures
B.A., National University of Singapore; M.A., Ph.D., Stanford University
Green Hall 336B
Shiao-Wei ThamAssociate Professor of Chinese
Research: linguistics, with focus on word meaning, Chinese.
Teaching: linguistics, Chinese language.
My research interests lie mainly in lexical semantics (word meaning), information structure (how information is packaged in sentences according to what a speaker assumes the hearer to know), and more recently, discourse. I have worked on the encoding of possessive, locative, and existential meanings, and in collaborative work, on the cross-linguistic encoding of motion. More specifically to Mandarin, I have studied the structure of copular sentences (those where the main verb is the equivalent of English be), and the relationship between aspectual marking and discourse structure. I am currently looking at different verb classes in Mandarin.
I teach both linguistics and Chinese language courses here at Wellesley. Language: Form and Meaning is a course in introductory syntax (sentence structure). Chinese and the Languages of China explores the social and historical factors leading to the current linguistic situation in China, including the importance of Putonghua, character simplification, and Pinyin. Employing linguistic tools, the course also provides an introduction to certain features of the different languages of China, often called dialects. I also teach Chinese at the advanced intermediate (203-4) and advanced (307) levels.