Michelle Yuan

Assistant Professor, UCLA Linguistics

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at UCLA. Before joining UCLA, I was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at UCSD from 2019 to 2023. I completed my PhD in Linguistics at MIT, and also have a BA and MA in Linguistics from the University of Toronto.

I research theoretical syntax and am especially interested in the syntax-morphology interface. Much of my work has centred around morphosyntactic phenomena such as case, agreement, and movement, including (and especially) their interactions and their manifestations in ergative languages. I am also interested in the internal structure and formation of morphologically complex words and, relatedly, the morphosyntactic properties of pronominal clitics.

I have primarily investigated these topics through the lens of Inuktitut and related varieties. More recently, I have also begun exploring some of these issues in the San Juan Piñas variety of Mixtec (Tò’ōn Ndá’ví), together with Gabriela Caballero, Claudia Juárez Chávez and other language experts, and our students. This work is particularly focused around the documentation and analysis of the language’s tonal and morphosyntactic properties, as well as the development of linguistic resources for language reclamation purposes.

Recent/upcoming talks

  • April 2024. Pronominal cliticization and verb-initial word order in San Juan Piñas Mixtec. Colloquium, USC Linguistics.
  • April 2024. Apparent cross-clausal agreement with obliques in Kalaallisut is prolepsis. WSCLA 27, University of Toronto. With Line Mikkelsen, Emily Clem, and Ellen Thrane.
  • January 2024. More on ‘Lexical DP Blocking’ effects in the PCC: Evidence from Mixtec. NELS 54, MIT (poster).

A pineapple field in San Juan Piñas, Oaxaca (Summer 2022)



Department of Linguistics
University of California, Los Angeles
Campbell Hall 3125
Los Angeles, CA 90095