Marlboro College

Academics Grant Li - Chinese and Linguistics

Contact Grant Li; 802-451-7148

"I am interested in language & culture and how languages work," said Grant Li, who has a deep appreciation for the fundamental similarities between languages. Grant was born and grew up in the northeast of China, where standard Chinese is spoken. After receiving his Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of California, Irvine, he turned his attention to teaching Chinese. At Marlboro College, Grant teaches all levels of Chinese and theoretical linguistics.

Teaching Philosophy

“To many people Chinese is a hard language to learn. That may be true, but I try to make the language accessible to students with activities in class conducive to developing their communicative skills,” said Grant, who always brings fun and joy to language learning. In linguistics, he emphasizes the theoretical and formal approaches to the nature of language, reflecting his view that fundamentally all languages are the same. He believes that languages differ on the surface due to various interactions of a finite set of surprisingly simple grammatical principles. "Because of the nature of linguistics, students interested in any language can work with me—not only their own native language(s), but any other languages as well. A comparative study across languages is particularly fascinating, as it often helps reveal the nature of language."

Student Plans and Collaborations

Scholarly Activities

Grant's research interests are Chinese language and culture, syntactic theory and comparative linguistics. Grant helps students to work on a particular language-Chinese or to develop analyses of some language phenomena from the theoretical perspective. His view on syntactic nature of distributivity is summarized in his book, 分之道/Tao of Division (2009) and a book chapter “Distributivity: A Parametric View” (2011).

B.A., Heilongjiang University, 1982; M.A., Heilongjiang University, 1987; M.A., University of California, Irvine, 1995; Ph.D., University of California, Irvine, 1997; Marlboro College, 2008 –

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