Conference presentations (peer-reviewed)

An abridged version can be found on my academic webpage

This page contains details and synopses of my presentations at conferences to which my abstracts/proposals were accepted on a competitive basis. Here is a list of them in reverse chronological order: 


'Sinitic nominalisation: microvariation and dialect levelling’. Oral (virtual) presentation at the 24th International Conference on Yue Dialects (第二十四届國際粵方言研討會), University of Macau, Macau, China, 13th-14th November 2020.  

Sinitic strategies of nominalisation as derived by adnominalisers de (的) and ge (個​/嘅/个) show microvariation across and between Chinese dialects, since de has a wider range of use than ge as the former can be used in past-time cleft constructions (VdeO/*VgeO) as well as in Activity nominals whereas the latter is generally prohibited in Southern dialects. However, the dialectal distribution is uneven since in central intermediary dialects ge is marginally acceptable in past-time clefts (?VgeO) but largely unacceptable in Activity nominals, which indicates subtle mechanisms of dialect contact where indefinite uses of ge which historically underlie past-time clefts are more permeable in borrowability than definite uses of ge which mark Activity nominals.   


Abstract downloadable here:   

'Event Structure and Differential Object Marking: Perspectives from Romance and Chinese’. Oral (virtual) presentation at the Workshop on Events and Event Structure at the Limits of Grammar (EESLiG), University of Oxford, United Kingdom, 14th September 2020.  

Two famous case-studies of Differential Object Marking (DOM) (Romance ad and Chinese ba) reveal empirical similarities and differences that can be accounted for in terms of their categories, since the fact that Romance ad is prepositional and Chinese ba is deverbal entails discrepancies in distribution as the former is more nominally-driven while the latter more verbally so. Nonetheless, a comparison reveals some core properties of DOM that may be incorporated into the universal theory of event structure, namely transitivity and aktionsart which seem to underlie typological properties of 'markedness' that are characteristic of DOM in the world's languages.  


Abstract downloadable here:   

'Microvariation in Chinese nominal domain: mapping formal and dialectal cartography using historical corpora and social media (WeChat)’. Oral presentation at Morphosyntactic Variation and Change in the 21st century (MVC21), University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, 27th-29th May 2020 (TBA).  

Chinese adnominaisers (結構助詞) are broadly divided into uses shared by morphemes de (的) and ge (個​/嘅/个) which display microvariation where de as used in northern varieties (including standard Mandarin) seems to have a wider distribution than ge in central-southern dialects as shown in the uses of the former in past-time cleft constructions and Activity verb constructions which are prohibited for the latter (Tang (2011)). Furthermore, although ge is generally prohibited in the aforementioned constructions in extreme southern dialects such as Yue (Cantonese), Min and Hakka, it is marginally grammatical in past-time clefts but ungrammatical in Activity verb constructions in central dialects such as Wu and Xiang, which may be explained in terms of Feature Interpretability in language contact and dialect levelling (Tsimpli and Dimitrakopoulou (2007)), since it is widely established that de is a predicational linker formed in appositive uses of phrase-final nominaliser di (底/者) and ge derived from its uses as a general classifier, and while the latter has inherent deixis as a quantifier/determiner the former does not, which may have yielded the discrepancies between cleft and Activity constructions where ge seems to have been reanalysed in clefts but not in Activity nominal phrases. 


Abstract downloadable here:   

'Differential Object Marking: Nominal and Verbal Parameters’. Poster presentation at the Linguistic Society of America (LSA) Annual Meeting, Hilton New Orleans Riverside, New Orleans, Louisiana, 2nd January 2020. 

While the robust cross-linguistic distribution of Differential Object Marking (DOM) indicates linguistic and cognitive universals in denoting nominal and verbal markedness, the different diachronic pathways in its genesis reveal subtle microvariations in the mechanisms underlying DOM, as shown in a comparison between Latin/Romance preposition ad and Chinese co-verb ba (把), the former being more nominally-driven and the latter more verbally-driven. 


Abstract downloadable here:  

Proceedings paper downloadable: 

Keith Tse


At Manchester and York, I attended courses on oral and poster presentations and learnt how to present my work professionally at academic conferences. I would not necessarily say that I enjoy giving conference presentations, since I do get quite nervous. I must say though that I get much less nervous now than before since I have VIVID memories of my first two conference presentations when I was scared out of my mind. Nowadays I get appropriately nervous to a controllable degree, so I think (and hope) that my conference performance has improved over the years. I look forward to my next conference (or maybe not)!  


'Cantonese ge (嘅) vs Mandarin de (的): Microparametric Variation in the Nominal Domain’. Oral presentation at the Third International Symposium on Chinese Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (ISOCTAL-3), University College Cork, 13th December 2019. 

Cantonese ge (嘅) and Mandarin de (的) display subtle microvariations, since although both are classified as Sinitic adnominalisers, they have different distributions in relation to the event structure of the verb.  


Abstract downloadable here:  

'Chinese Voice Alternations: Applicatives and Argument Alternations’. Oral presentation at the Third International Workshop on Syntactic Cartography (IWSC2019), Beijing Language and Culture University, 27th October 2019. 

Two special co-verbs in Chinese ba (把) and bei (被) display syntactic properties of argument selection and event structure which indicate unique derivational mechanisms of argument alternation. This paper proposes that Chinese ba and bei are unique forms of Voice heads which entail Voice alternations akin to activisation and passivisation respectively, and though it is traditionally noted that ba and bei share many similarities, their relative positions reveal differences in distributional and collocational range which can be argued to be due to their cartographic positions in the hierarchy of verbal and clausal functional heads. 


Abstract downloadable here:  

PhilSoc Report downloadable here: 

'Cantonese GE (粵語結構助詞: )’. Oral presentation at the Second Forum on Cantonese Linguistics (FoCaL-2), in conjunction with the School of Cantonese Studies, Education University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 1st June 2019. 

Cantonese adnominaliser (ge 嘅) presents subtle differences from Mandarin adnominaliser (de 的) in ways which suggest a more fine-grained cartographic structure in the Chinese nominal domain where ge and de co-vary microparametric differences which correlate with their different etymologies (嘅 < 個, 的 < 底 < 者). 


Abstract downloadable here:  


'Chinese ba and bei: Co-Verbs, Light Verbs, Voice and Argument Alternations'. Oral presentation at the Eighth International Conference on Formal Linguistics (ICFL-8), Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, 24th November 2018. 

Chinese Co-Verbs denote subtle alternations of argument placement and differential argument marking which suggest a more elaborate cartographic structure in the lower half of the clausal spine, namely between T(ense)/Mod(al) and Asp(ect) where there are reasons to believe that there is a series of Applicative heads denoting Voice (Active/Passive) whose formal arrangement seems to operate on a semantically-driven Remerge rather than Case-driven Internal Merge. 

Abstract downloadable here:  

'Microvariation in Western Romance Differenial Object Marking (ad): diachrony and synchrony'. Oral presentation at 'Differential Object Marking in Romance- Towards Microvariation', Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Paris, France, 9th November 2018.


A microparametric analysis of Western Romance Differential Object Marking (DOM) reveals not only microvariations between different yet related varieties but also mechanisms which underlie the structure of the Romance nominal domain both from a diachronic and synchronic perspective.  

Abstract downloadable here:  

'Chinese Voice: ba and bei’. Poster presentation at the International Forum in Frontiers in Linguistics (IFFL), Beijing Language and Culture University, Beijing, China, 29th October 2018. 

Chinese co-verbs ba (把) and bei (被) involve subtle empirical patterns which support a derivation of argument alternation in a cartographic hierarchy of Applicative heads, the structure of which seems to be based on a mechanism of Voice alternation which is more semantically-oriented rather than Case-driven as seen in Western Indo-European languages.   

Abstract downloadable here:  

Poster downloadable here:

'Formation of Chinese clefts: microparametric 'lateral' grammaticalization’. Poster presentation at the Third Buckeye East Asian Linguistics Forum (BEAL-3), Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, United States, 22nd October 2018. 

A formal analysis of the typology of cleft structures in Chinese dialects reveals some common similarities, namely the use of the copula in assigning focus which accords with the cross-linguistic distribution of it-clefts/pseudo-clefts, as well as some microvariations which give rise to different forms of clefts in different areas of the Sinosphere.  

Abstract downloadable here:  

Poster downloadable here: 

Proceedings paper downloadable here: 

'Formalist and functionalist factors in parameter resetting: a creative compromise’. Oral presentation at the Workshop 'Learnability in a Parametric World', Romance Turn IX, University of Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania, 1st September 2018. 

Formal approaches towards syntactic change assume that parameter-resetting occurs in first language acquisition (Lightfoot (1991, 1998)), and current Minimalist assumptions (Strong Minimalist Thesis (SMT)) predict that formal 'simplicity' determines the outcome of the formation of child grammar (Roberts (2001, 2007), van Gelderen (2011), cf Chomsky (1995, 2005, 2007)). Romance data, namely the diachrony of prepositions as Case-markers and complementisers, seem to show that while formal 'simplicity' does play a role in parameter-resetting, other factors pertaining to the functionalist realms of expressivity and clarity permit a significant pool of formal variation which demonstrates the creativity in parameter-fixing. 

Abstract downloadable here:  

'Chinese ba: new Voice head and Voice alternations’. Oral presentation at the 31st Paris Meeting on East Asian Linguistics (JLAO), Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Paris, France, 28th June 2018. 

Chinese ba is a seminal morpheme in Chinese whose formal and empirical properties have been analysed by Chinese scholars throughout the ages, albeit to no completely satisfactory analysis. This paper presents new perspectives in the structure of Chinese ba-constructions which not only purports to account for some subtle properties of ba hitherto documented but unaccounted for but also raises new perspectives on the formal structure of Case-assignment and Differential Object Marking.  

Abstract downloadable here:  

Presentation downloadable here: 

'Formation of Cantonese clefts (粵語焦點句形成語法化)’. Oral presentation at the First Forum on Cantonese Linguistics (FoCaL-1), Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 31st May 2018. 

While Cantonese broadly conforms to the Sinitic pattern of cleft formation in that it consists of a copula verb (hai 係) selecting a nominalised clause headed by the adnominaliser (ge 嘅), it displays microvariations and idiosyncracies in comparison to other Chinese dialects which reveal some new mechanisms in formal syntactic change.


Abstract downloadable here:  

'Formal convergence and divergence: creative parametric (re)setting in Latin/Romance syntactic change’. Oral presentation at the Workshop on 'Romance Diachrony at the Interfaces', 48th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL), University of York, Toronto, Canada, 25th April 2018. 

A formal analysis of the evolution of Latin/Romance prepositions shows that while 'simplicity' strongly determines parameter-(re)setting in historical syntax in conformity to the Inertia Principle, the mechanisms behind this are far from mechanical or predictable as a level of creativity and sensitivity to the inherent semantics of the elements in question can be shown. 

Abstract downloadable here:  

'Western Romance Different Object Marking (ad): analogical generalization and feature 'simplification’. Oral presentation at the 21st Annual Ohio State University Congress on Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics (OSUCHiLL), Ohio State University, Ohio, United States, 30th March 2018

Although Differential Object Marking (ad) is pan-Romance and has proto-Romance origins, it displays subtle microvariations between different dialects which reveal different analogical and formal pressures at bay. 

Abstract downloadable here:  


'Formation of Chinese shi-de constructions (Mandarin and dialects)’. Oral presentation at the Second International Symposium on Chinese Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (ISOCTAL-2), University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy, 16th December 2017.

Comparative evidence reveals a sharp divide between the Chinese cleft (shi-de) constructions in the north and south of China, which yields new and interesting insights into the formation of Chinese cleft constructions. 

Abstract downloadable here:  

‘The formation of Differential Object Marking: creative parametric microparametric variation of semantic features’. Oral presentation at the International Workshop: Diachrony of Differential Object Marking, Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO), Paris, France, 17th November 2017.

A formal comparative analysis of two famous case-studies of Differential Object Marking (DOM) (Latin/Romance ad and Chinese ba/jiang) reveals striking similarities and differences in the formal alignment of semantic features in nominal arguments, which not only demonstrates the dynamic creativity and sensitivity to semantic features in formal Case-marking, but also allows us to form a formal typology of DOM, which is richly attested as a cross-linguistic universal. 

Abstract downloadable here: 

‘Formation of Chinese shi-de constructions’. Oral presentation at the Twenty-Fifth Annual Conference of the International Assocation of Chinese Linguistics (IACL-25), Research Institute for Linguistics (Hungarian Academy of Sciences) and Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungarian, 25th June 2017. 

A novel and integrated analysis of the historical origins of Chinese cleft (shi-de) constructions seeks to account for their empirical similarities and differences as well as a new formal definition of Simpson and Wu's (2002) 'lateral' grammaticalization.

Abstract downloadable here: 


‘Chinese copula shi’. Oral presentation at the Inaugural International Symposium on Chinese Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (ISOCTAL-1), The Centre for Research in Linguistics and Language Sciences (CRiLLS), Newcastle University, 10th December 2015. 

The historical formation of the Chinese copula shi is reconsidered within a formal (Minimalist) framework and new proposals are made regarding the hypothesis of 'lateral' grammaticalization, as proposed by Simpson and Wu (2002).


Abstract downloadable here: 


'Latin/Romance ad: Differential Object Marking, Minimalism and formalism/functionalism’. Oral presentation at Going Romance 2013, University of Amsterdam, Friday 29th November 2013. 

A new account of the proto-Romance formation of the Romance Differential Object Marking (DOM) system is reconstructed from medieval Romance and traced back to Latin, which not only accounts for the DOM properties of western Romance ad, but also expands on traditional analyses of Latin/Romance ad as a case-marker (K(case)). 

Abstract downloadable here: 

Paper downloadable here: 

‘Chinese ba: grammaticalization, ‘lateral’ grammaticalization, and Case Theory’. Poster presentation at the Twenty-Fifth North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL-25), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Saturday 22nd June 2013. 

The synchronic and diachronic distribution of Chinese co-verb ba is analysed and a formal (Minimalist) interpretation revises certain traditional assumptions regarding grammaticalization and Case theory.  

Abstract downloadable here: 

Poster downloadable here: 

Published proceedings paper downloadable here: 


'(Proto-)Romance prepositional infinitives and modal verbs’. Oral presentation at the Tenth International Conference on Late and Vulgar Latin (Latin Vulgaire-Latin Tardif (LVLT-X)), University of Bergamo, Friday 7th September 2012. 

Comparative Romance data is used to reconstruct (proto-)Romance patterns of clausal complementation and new hypotheses are proposed for Latin and Romance historical syntax. 

Abstract downloadable here: 

Written-up version downloadable here: 

‘What is ‘lateral’ grammaticalization? Chinese de and shi’'. Oral presentation at the Twentieth Annual Conference of the International Association of Chinese Linguistics (IACL-20), Polytechnic University of Hong Kong, Thursday 30th August 2012. 

A comparison between Simpson and Wu's (2002) 'lateral' grammaticalization (Chinese shi-de constructions) and standard Minimalist accounts of grammaticalization (Roberts and Roussou (2003), van Gelderen (2004, 2011)) reveals crucial and important properties of functional categories and syntactic change.

Abstract downloadable here: 

'The Italo-Celtic question: did Italo-Celtic exist?’ Poster presentation at the Seventh Celtic Linguistics Conference (CLC7), University of Rennes, Friday 22nd June 2012. 


Traditional hypotheses regarding the 'Italo-Celtic question' (the postulation of a unique phylum comprising of (proto-)Italic and (proto-)Celtic speakers) are evaluated in light of new models of historical phylogeny (Garrett (1999, 2006)) and language contact. 

Abstract downloadable here:  

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© Keith Tse (2015-) 

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London, United Kingdom