Dr. Kyeong-min Kim Succesfully Defends!

January 15, 2019

Congratulations to Dr. Kyeong-min Kim, who successfully defended his dissertation on December 20, 2018! Kyeong-min Kim joined the department in Fall 2011 and has since worked under Dr. Chung-hye Han and Dr. Keir Moulton in the Xsyn Lab.

Here are some of Kyeong-min's contributions while at SFU.

  • Kim, Kyeong-min, and Chung-hye Han. 2016. Inter-speaker variation in Korean pronouns. In Patrick Grosz and Pritty Patel-Grosz (eds.), The Impact of Pronominal Form on Interpretation, 349-373. Studies in Generative Grammar [SGG] 125. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
You can see more of Kyeong-min's contributions at his website: http://kyeong-min.blogspot.com/.
For those interested in the topic of his PhD Dissertation, please the abstract attached below.


PhD Thesis Defence
Korean Anaphora: An Experimental Investigation

This dissertation explores the syntactic and interpretative properties of three Korean anaphoric
devices, (i) third-person pronouns, (ii) VP anaphors (VPAs), and (iii) null objects (NOs), using
experimental syntax methodologies.

There is no general consensus among previous studies as to whether Korean third-person pro-
noun ku ‘he’ (and its feminine counterpart kunye ‘she’) can be construed as a bound variable (Hong
1985, M. Y. Kang 1988, Suh 1990, N. K. Kang 2000, Koak 2008). Three interconnected experi-
ments were conducted to investigate this issue, and the findings demonstrated that some speakers
of Korean consistently accepted the quantificational binding of ku , while others consistently did
not. This result is highly suggestive of an existence of inter-speaker variation in the bound variable
construal for ku . Taking into consideration the historical background of ku and its present status,
I conclude that child learners of Korean may not receive sufficient evidence regarding ku from the
primary language input data. Given this, adopting Han et al.’s (2007) two-grammar hypothesis and
D´echaineandWiltschko’s (2002) pronominal typology, I propose that some speakers of Korean
randomly acquire FP ku , which complies with the “pronominal grammar”, while other speakers of
Korean acquire DP ku , which complies with the “demonstrative grammar”.

On the basis of the finding that there is variation across Korean speakers in the quantificational
binding of ku (i.e., the bound variable construal for ku ), the present study investigates the syntax
of VPAs and NOs in Korean. The existing proposals on their syntactic identities can be grouped
into two ways, the ellipsis approaches (Cho 1996, S. W. Kim 1999, Ha 2010, J. S. Kim 2012) and
the pro-form approaches (Yoon 2004, Ahn & Cho 2010, Bae & Kim 2012, M. K. Park 2013). In
two independent experiments designed to diagnose the presence of “hidden” structure within VPAs
and NOs, I examined the (un)availability of sloppy readings for VPAs and NOs with antecedents
containing ku . Given the standard view that the sloppy reading in ellipsis is due to a pronoun in
the ellipsis site being bound (Sag 1976, Williams 1977), if VPAs or NOs have elided structure that
hosts ku , the distribution of sloppy readings for them should correlate with that of quantificational
binding of ku . Such a correlation, however, is not expected if they are pro-forms that do not host
elided material (and thus not ku ). The correlation was found in the experiment for NOs, but not
in the experiment for VPAs. Based on these findings, I claim that VPAs are atomic, un-analyzable
pro-forms, which thus have no more structure than what must be present for the surface lexical
string, while NOs are derived from ellipsis, anaphora that have a fully-fledged structure.