Dr Cathryn Donohue

BA (Hons) (ANU), MA (UCLA), PhD (Stanford)
Research Associate, Linguistics
College of Asia & the Pacific

Areas of expertise

  • Linguistics 2004
  • Linguistic Structures (Incl. Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) 200408
  • Laboratory Phonetics And Speech Science 200404
  • Language In Time And Space (Incl. Historical Linguistics, Dialectology) 200406
  • Computational Linguistics 200402
  • Chinese Languages 200311
  • Iberian Languages 200308
  • South East Asian Languages (Excl. Indonesian) 200314

Research interests

Morphosyntax (especially case marking and agreement), tonal phenomena (phonetics, phonology, perception), linguistic theory, variation and linguistic typology, sociolinguistics, Chinese languages, Southeast Asian languages, Basque. 


Current projects: Towards a typology of causee case-marking, A model of case-marking in valency-altered predicates, Tones and vowels in Fuzhou, Perceptual salience and tonology, Language attitude and language loss in HK's minority dialects. 

Career highlights: Commonwealth Fellow, University of Hong Kong (1993-1995), Pauley Fellowship recipient, UCLA (1995-1997), Stanford University Doctoral Fellowship (1997-2002), Teaching Associate/Instructor, Stanford University (2002-2005), Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Santa Cruz (2004-2005), Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Reno (2005-2009), Research Associate, Linguistics, CAP (2010-present), Assistant Professor, University of Hong Kong (2013-present).


Researcher's projects

Towards a typology of causee case-marking  Languages often allow causatives to be formed in more than one way. These different construction types often correspond to differences in the affectedness of the causee. I am working on generating a large database to investigate the impact on case marking and agreement. 

A model of case-marking in valency-altered predicate  The goal of this project is to account for case arrays resulting from both valency increasing processes (e.g. applicativization or causativization) and valency decreasing processes (e.g. passivization or antipassivization). In principle, adding or subtracting a subject or object should be parallel processes and I am investigating the extent to which this is reflected in a model of the resulting case marking. 

Tones and vowels in Fuzhou  The Fuzhou variety of Chinese has seven citation tones and complex tone sandhi but is best known for its set of tonally conditioned vowel alternations. The alternating vowels form ‘pairs’ (e.g. [i]/[ei]) and the tones may be divided into two groups depending on which of the vowel ‘pairs’ they may co-occur with. The ‘higher’ of the two vowel variants predominates in the language as there is massive neutralization in sandhi position. For example, the vowel in ‘air’ [khei 21] is realised as [ei] in citation, but changes to [i] as the tone changes in sandhi position: ‘air pressure’ æ°£ [khi 53 a? 23]. Understanding the vowel alternations and the tone/vowel groupings is the goal of this project. 

Perceptual salience and tonology  Factors that may be initially thought of as secondary cues have been found to be significant factors for tonal identification in Fuzhou. I am exploring these factors in Fuzhou through a series of experiments investigating the nature of tone and its interaction with segmentals, non-modal phonation and duration. 


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Updated:  04 June 2020 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers