Hongyuan Dong

Assistant Professor of Chinese Language and Linguistics
Rome Hall 467
Phone: 202-994-6728

Areas of Expertise

Semantics, Historical Linguistics, Chinese Linguistics

Dr. Hongyuan Dong is a linguist specializing in semantic theories, with research focuses on the formal aspect of meaning. His research explores how languages differ in their surface forms but have common constraints at a deeper level. Dr. Dong has worked on the semantic properties of questions, focus, adjectives, and quantification. For the past few years he has been exploring ways to combine formal semantics with historical linguistics in the new field called formal diachronic semantics. He has done research in the formal semantic analyses of grammaticalization paths of locative-to-aspect developments, and modes of lexical semantic change by using intensional logic.

Current Research

1. Semantics-Phonology Interface of Wh-In-Situ in Chinese.

2. Historical Semantic Change and Formal Theories of Meaning.

3. Linguistic Nation-Building in Modern China.


Ph.D. in Linguistics, Cornell University



2014 A History of the Chinese Language, Routledge, New York, NY and Abingdon, UK.

Professor Hongyuan Dong's new book, A History of the Chinese Language (Routledge 2014), provides a comprehensive introduction to the historical development of the Chinese language from its proto Sino-Tibetan roots in prehistoric times to Modern Standard Chinese. Taking a highly accessible and balanced approach, it presents a chronological survey of the various stages of Chinese language development, covering crucial aspects such as phonology, syntax and semantics. This book is an essential reference book for students of Chinese Language and Linguistics and for anyone interested in the history and culture of China.



2009 Issues in the Semantics of Mandarin Questions, Ph.D. Dissertation, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.


2016  An LFG analysis of pronominal binding in Mandarin Chinese, Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America, Vol. 1, Article 2:1-15. DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v1i0.3646

2016  Teaching linguistics to supplement the implementation of the five Cs. Journal of the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages, Vol 18, pp. 1-24.

2015  Chinese: A Linguistic Introduction, by Chaofen Sun (review article). Chinese as a Second Language: The Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association-US, Vol 50, No. 3, pp. 95-100.

2015  Musicality meets tonality: A Tonal Congruence Index (ITG) for Chinese vocal music. In Hongyin Tao et al. (eds.) Proceedings of the 27th North American Conference on Chinese Linguistics (NACCL-27), Vol 2, pp. 322-339.

2007 The Semantics of Wh-Questions with the verbal "how" in Mandarin, in Proceedings of the Sixteenth Amsterdam Colloquium, edited by Maria Aloni, Paul Dekker, and Floris Roelofsen. Amsterdam, the Netherlands, pp. 67-72.

2005  (co-authored with Yang Shen 沈阳) “直接统治”与第三人称代词“他”的句内所指规则 (Direct C-Command and the Intra-sentential Co-reference Rules of 3rd Person Pronoun "ta" in Chinese), in 汉语语法研究的新拓展2 (New Explorations in the Research of Chinese Grammar Vol 2), edited by Jingmin Shao and Jingguang Lu, Zhejiang Education Publishing House, Hangzhou, China.

2004  (co-authored with Yang Shen 沈阳) “直接统制”与“他”的句内所指规则 (Direct C-Command and the Intrasentential Co-reference Rules of 3rd Person Pronoun “ta” in Chinese). 中国语文 (Studies of the Chinese Language), 1:16-29, Beijing, China.

Classes Taught

Courses taught at the George Washington University:

​Courses taught elsewhere:

  • Introduction to Linguistics
  • Semantics
  • Beginning Mandarin
  • Intermediate Mandarin
  • Intensive Beginning Mandarin
  • Intensive Intermediate Mandarin
  • Beginning Chinese Reading and Writing for Students of Chinese Heritage