Nian Liu (劉念)

Assistant Professor

Chinese and Theoretical Linguistics


Kaufman Hall 103A

(405) 325-8622



Nian Liu, Assistant Professor of Chinese and Theoretical Linguistics, joined the faculty of Department of Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics in 2012.

Dr. Liu's research interests cover diverse topics including simulation semantics, embodiment of linguistic constructions, linguistic relativity, and Chinese language processing. She was a visiting scholar at University of Latvia, Peking University, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong working on several cross-linguistic comparison projects and bilingualism study.

Her most recent research projects focus in the areas of language acquisition, which she approaches from a cognitive perspective. The cognitive perspective is one which sees language as being inextricably linked to other cognitive functions, and so it is hypothesized that language affects and is affected by these other functions. Her current research project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), explores the relationship between language and cognition— how language is influenced by and influences general cognition. More specifically, it tests whether the use of numerical systems in time concept names affect how children acquire time concepts and how adults reason about time.


Refereed Publications

Liu, N. (2016). On the evidence of morphology in isolating languages. Research on Folklore, Classics and Chinese Characters, Vol. 18, 181-198.

Liu, N. (2016). Tone 3 Sandhi in Mandarin Chinese: Phonological Rule or Process? Journal of Sinology, Vol. 10, 48-71.

Stabile, C., Liu, N., Chen, V., & Deen, K. (2016). Cross linguistic priming of the passive in Mandarin and English bilinguals. In Stringer, D., Garrett, J., Halloran, B., & Mossman, S. (Eds.). GASLA 13: Proceedings of the 13th Generative Approaches to Second Language Acquisition Conference (pp. 223-232). Somerville, MA.

Liu, N. & Shin, Y. (2016). When months are numbered while days are not: Korean children’s acquisition of time words. In M. Kenstowicz, T. Levin, & R. Masuda (Eds.) Japanese/Korean Linguistics 23 (pp. 1-10). Stanford CA: CSLI Publications.

Liu, N., & Bergen, B. (2016). When do language understanders mentally simulate locations?Cognitive Linguistics, Vol. 17, No. 2, 181-204. 

Zhang, W., & Liu, N. (2016). Advanced quantitative methods in Cognitive Linguistics research. Journal of Foreign Languages, Vol. 1, 72-81. 

Zhang, W. & Liu, N. (2015). The empirical cycle of cognitive linguistics research. Foreign Languages Research, Vol. 151, No. 3, 18-29. 

Liu, N. (2013). Implicit Priming Effects in Chinese Word Recall: the Role of Orthography in the Mental Lexicon. International Journal of Computational Linguistics and Chinese Language Processing, Vol. 18,  No. 3, 1-20. 

Liu, N., & Bergen, B. (2013). When Tuesday comes before Threesday: Cross-linguistic differences in numerical transparency of time words predicts temporal reasoning strategy and performance. In M. Knauff, M., Pauen, N., Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.) Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 924-929). Austin TX: Cognitive Science Society. 

Liu, N. (2010). Tuesday, Threesday, Foursday: Chinese names for the days of the week facilitate Chinese children's temporal reasoning. In ASCS09: Proceedings of the 9th Conference of the Australasian Society for Cognitive Science (pp. 210-215). Edited by Wayne Christensen, Elizabeth Schier, and John Sutton. Sydney: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science. 



PhD, M.A. in Linguistics, University of Hawaii at Manoa

M.A. in Chinese Language and Linguistics, University of Hawaii at Manoa

M.A., B.A. in English Literature, Wuhan University



Cognitive Linguistics


Language Acquisition