JIANG, Yan. [Academic Site]

Thank you for coming! I work at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, as a teacher and researcher of linguistics. 

Data updated on Feb. 20th, 2015

Yan JIANG:  Baidu entry 

Areas: Semantics, Pragmatics, Rhetoric.

I am interested in looking at formal aspects of meaning that are also cognitively significant, which entails attention to two directions of study: 

a. natural language logic; b. cognitive studies of language and meaning.  

Interested themes: Montague semantics and its later developments, Inferential pragmatics[esp. relevance theory] and its formal developments, formal semantic and pragmatic analysis of Chinese, rhetoric studies as extensions of semantics and pragmatics

Many recent activities in teaching and research are documented in my WordPress and Sina Blogs. Please access through Sitebar:  0000-0001. If you see a blank page, you need to re-configure your browser or simply try other browsers. Framed pages work best with Safari.

I have been working on a corpus of Chinese rhetoric, together with hundreds of MA students taking my subject on modern rhetoric, who contribute data in the form of analyzed new examples in their assignments. The corpus will be made accessible to registered users in a few months' time. Please write to me if you are interested.

Research topics: 

Current: conditionals, deixis, presupposition, contextualism vs minimalism, the semantics of dou-quantification; anaphora; tropes; scalar implicature, direct reference, comparatives, donkey sentence

Theoretical concerns: formal semantics and pragmatics, cross-dialectal semantics for Chinese

Languages: mother tongue: Shanghainese;  fluent: Mandarin Chinese, English; can read with a dictionary: French;  can understand some and speak some: Cantonese;  have some knowledge of: Latin, German

Other interests:

Thank you for reading all the way to here!
Not many interests, but just in case:
  • Playing at chess dot com, yanjianghk, 3m blitz suits me better, as I don't have time to play for long, hope to see u there.
  • Playing Dream League Football through Ipad: multiplayer:  that I find is really hard, again look for yanjianghk
  • Working with Lingsync, with the Lambda Calculator, and Python, let me know if we have common interests.


 A Sketch of Mr. Jiang Yan the Strict: by LIN Hao, Chinese Linguistics Institute, 2014 (updated version, Aug. 30th, 2014)

Always wearing a dark blue T-shirt and pale blue jeans, with a big deep blue backpack over his hunched back, he walks alone with measured steps, as if each step is a decision on what the next operation of a sentence should be.  From behind, Mr. Jiang Yan seems a typical middle-aged scholar, a shadow of a spirit worn out by long years tilling among academic fields. But from the front, he appears quite serious and stern, just like his surname meaning strict in Chinese. His thinning well-kempt hair obediently falls backwards, revealing a shining forehead wide enough to park a car, and a pair of old-fashioned glasses seated on an aquiline nose. Behind his glasses, his eyes give a fierce and piercing look, occasionally darting about. At the first sight of such a figure, most students cannot help but stand in awe, as if he were not a teacher in the classroom but a majesty judge in the court room.

 However, upon catching sight of a student, a light flashes into his eyes. His expression slackens, his nose wrinkles, and his mouth pouts into the bloom of a smile, innocent and childlike, even accompanied by a dimple on the right side. He trots up to the student, spreading a cordial arm over his shoulder, and starts a familiar conversation. Instantly he melts into the most amiable person under the sun.

 In actuality, Mr. Jiang IS quite strict and serious, first and foremost, with himself: he keeps editing and updating his Powerpoints all the time. More than once, we have received his latest version just a couple of minutes before class, which he inevitably stayed up past midnight to prepare, since he was online during the day answering every question raised by students, however absurd or irrelevant it may be. But, to his students, he is much more lenient, considerate and patient to a fault: just like a guide who leads his followers through a labyrinth, reminding them of the pitfalls here, traps there; taking pains to repeat his prompts and cautions, leaving clues; and often slowing down or even to a stop to make sure that nobody lags behind.

Mr. Jiang has a dry voice and sense of humor. He always takes the stance of his students, rather than opposing their views like Mr.Shi Dingxu, who is at once admired for his mellifluous eloquence and worldly shrewdness.  Comparatively, the influence of Mr. Jiangs personality on his students is spontaneous and inconspicuous, and his style is so familiar that everyone feels at ease and at home. Sometimes, in order to relax us while discussing those complicated topics of formal semantics, he will share his petty feelings with us, which makes him ever more affable, as shown below: 

“I wrote to the author of the textbook. She told me: ‘I am retired, I have more important things to do, please contact my school.’ ” This is followed by a short pause, and then a burst of laughter. “Actually she graduated in the ’90s, so the span of  her academic work is only about 20 years or so — its short. I feel I am approaching it. When I get retired, I will also follow suit. Say, hey, contact my school. I have more important issues to deal with.”  A most naïve grin ripples through the classroom.

Mr. Jiang is never in a hurry in his class. Every action follows its own tempo. It seems that his words are folded carefully in his pockets to be fumbled out, but each one ever glittering! And normally he is thinking when he is talking. In sheer contrast with Ms. Li Aijun, whose class is like a show of the pipa琵琶, in Mr. Jiangs class you have a feeling of enjoying a rendering of the guqin (古琴). It has its unique rhythm and elusive melodies, sensitive and smooth. In this manner, flakes of what he teaches just drop into the memory of an attentive mind. 

Among my teachers of intensive courses, I like to drink beers with Mr. Shi and have a good meal with Ms. Li. But with Mr. Jiang, I prefer to sip tea in a long, dozy and lazy afternoon.