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Faculty – Yoshiko Matsumoto

Professor, Japanese Language and Linguistics
Coordinator of the Japanese Language Program


Research Areas

  • Pragmatics
  • Construction grammar, Frame semantics
  • Discourse analysis, Interactional sociolinguistics

Based on in-depth analyses of Japanese, my research focuses on issues that emphasize the importance of context in understanding the structure, meaning and use of language. I have worked on pragmatics of linguistic constructions (e.g. frame semantics of noun-modifying construction, reference, honorifics, discourse markers) and sociocultural aspects of discourse (e.g. politeness theories, speech acts, bilingualism, relation among language, gender and age, ideology, and identity reflected in Japanese as a second language). Topics of my current research center around conversational narratives (especially of older women), integration of pragmatic factors in construction grammar, and typology of noun-modifying constructions.

Books (Monograph and Edited Volumes):

  • 2011 (Ed.) Faces of Aging: The Lived Experiences of the Elderly in Japan. Stanford University Press.
  • 2007 (Ed.) Diversity in Language: Perspectives & Implications, Co-edited with D. Oshima, O. Robinson and P. Sells. CSLI Publications.
  • 1997 Noun-Modifying Constructions in Japanese: A Frame Semantic Approach. Studies in Language Companion Series 35. John Benjamins.
  • 1997 (Ed.) Journal of Pragmatics 28:6. Invited editor for a special issue on Japanese pragmatics.


  • In Press –「日本語の名詞修飾節構文−他言語との対照を含めて」『日本語複文構文の研究』(益岡隆志・大島資生・橋本修・堀江薫・前田直子・丸山岳彦編) “Noun-Modifying Clause Constructions in Japanese: With comparisons to other languages,” in Studies on Japanese Complex Sentence Constructions, (eds.) Masuoka, Takashi, Motoo Oshima, Osamu Hashimoto, Kaoru Horie, Naoko Maeda, & Maruyama Takehiko). Tokyo: Hituzi Shobo.
  • In press – “Japanese Relative Clauses That Stand Alone, ” in Japanese/Korean Linguistics 22. CSLI.
  • In press –“Awareness of Multiplicity” (多様性の認識). In (eds.) Tsutsui, M., O. Kamata, and W. Jacobsen, New Horizons in Japanese Language Education (日本語教育の新しい地平を開く) Tokyo: Hituzi Shobo.
  • To appear “Context in Constructions: Variation in Japanese non-subject honorifics,” in Functional Approaches to Japanese Grammar: Toward the Understanding of Human Languages, (eds.) Kabata, Kaori and Tsuyoshi Ono. John Benjamins.
  • 2011c – “Painful to Playful: Quotidian frames in the conversational discourse of older Japanese speakers,” Language in Society 40:5. 591-616
  • 2011b – “Reframing to regain identity with humor: What conversations with friends suggest for communication in elderly care,” in Communication in Elderly Care: Cross-Cultural Approaches, (ed.) Backhaus, Peter. Continuum.
  • 2011a – “Introduction,” Faces of Aging: The Lived Experiences of the Elderly in Japan, (ed.) Yoshiko Matsumoto. Stanford University Press.
  • 2010 – “Interactional frame and grammatical descriptions: The case of Japanese noun-modifying constructions,” Constructions and Frames 2:2. 136-157.
  • 2009d – “Beyond Stereotypes of Old Age: Discourse of Elderly Japanese Women,” International Journal of the Sociology of Language. Special Issue on ‘Language and Social Ageing’. 129-151. [modified version appeared in Faces of Aging: The Lived Experiences of the Elderly in Japan, (ed.) Yoshiko Matsumoto. Stanford University Press.]
  • 2009c – “Dealing with Changes – Humorous Self-Disclosure by Elderly Japanese Women,” Ageing & Society 29, 6. Special issue edited by Justine Coupland. 929-952.
  • 2009b – “Pragmatics of Performative Honorifics in Subordinate Clauses”, in Language in Life, and a Life in Language: Jacob Mey, A Festschrift, (Studies in Pragmatics v. 6) (eds.) Ken turner and Bruce Fraser. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
  • 2009a – “Forward”, Face Communication and Social Interaction, (eds.) Bargiela-Chiappini, Francesca and Michael Haugh. London: Equinox Publishing Ltd. xi-xii.
  • 2008d – “Tuning Styles and Personae”, in Japanese Speech Style Shift (Pragmatics and Beyond New Series 180) (eds.) Kimberly Jones and Tsuyoshi Ono. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 213-228.
  • 2008b – “Discourse of the elderly from the speaker’s point of view”, Japanese Applied Linguistics: Discourse and Social Perspectives (eds.) Mori, Junko and Amy S. Ohta. Continuum International Publishing Group. 188-210. 2008b.
  • 2008c – “Young Women in the Meiji Period as Linguistic Trendsetters” (co-authored with Mariko Bohn), Journal of Language and Gender Vol. 2 (1). 9-42.
  • 2008a – “Variations in Japanese honorification – deviations or a change in the making?,” Constructional Re-organization (Constructional Approaches to Language Series 5), (ed.) Jaakko Leino. John Benjamins. 89-104. 2008a.
  • 2007d – “Interaction of Multiple Factors in Relative Clause Construal and Acquisition.” Commentary. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 29. 367-374.
  • 2007c – “Dealing with changes – Discourse of elderly Japanese women”, Japanese/Korean Linguistics 15, (eds.) Naomi H. McGloin, et al. CSLI Publication. 93-107. 2007c.
  • 2007b – “Integrating frames: Complex noun phrase constructions in Japanese,” Aspects of Linguistics: In Honor of Noriko Akatsuka (Gengogaku no Syosoo: Akatsuka Noriko Kyoozyu Kinen Ronbunsyuu), (eds.) Susumu Kuno, Seiichi Makino and Susan Strauss. Tokyo: Kurosio Publishers. 131-154. 2007b.
  • 2007a – “Kaiwa no naka no iwayuru joseigo (Use of so-called women’s language in conversation),” Gengo (Language): Vol. 36 No.3. 62-69.
  • 2005b – “‘We’ll be dead by then!’ – comical self-disclosure by elderly Japanese women." The Proceedings of the 30th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. (eds.) M. Ettlinger, N. Fleisher, M. Park-Doob. Berkeley Linguistics Society. 268-297.
  • 2004c – “Alternative Femininity and the Presentation of Self in Japanese,” in Japanese Language, Gender, and Ideology: Cultural Models and Real People, (Studies in Language and Gender Series) (eds.) Shigeko Okamoto and Janet (Shibamoto) Smith. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 240-255. 2004c.
  • 2004b – “The new (and improved?) language and place of women in Japan,” in Language and Woman’s Place: Text and Commentaries, by Robin T. Lakoff. Revised and expanded edition (Studies in Language and Gender Series), (ed.) Mary Bucholtz and. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 244-251. 2004b.
  • 2004a – “Kizuki to sentaku: Shakai-gengogakuteki nooryoku no yoosei o mezasu nihongo-kyooiku no igi” (Awareness and Choice: Implications of Japanese language instruction aiming to cultivate learners’ sociolinguistic competence) (with T. Shimizu, H. Okano Lipton, and M. Okubo Lowdermilk). Gengogaku to Nihongo Kyooiku – Jitsuyooteki Gengo Kenkyuu no Koochiku o Mezashite 3 (Linguistics and Japanese Language Education: Toward Practical Linguistics Research), (ed.) Masahiko Minami. Tokyo: Kurosio Syuppan. 41-58. 2004a.
  • 2003b – “Reply to Pizziconi," Journal of Pragmatics 35. 1515-1521. 2003b.
  • 2003a – “The Construction of the Japanese Language and Culture in Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language.” (co-authored with Shigeko Okamoto). Japanese Language and Literature. Vol. 37, Number 1. 27-48. 2003a.
  • 2002 – “Gender Identity and the Presentation of Self in Japanese,” 2002. Gendered Practices in Language, (eds.) S. Benor, M. Rose, D. Sharma, J. Sweetland, Q. Zhang. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications. 339-354. 2002.
  • 2001b – “Extending Frame Semantics: Flexibility of Complex Noun Phrase Constructions in Japanese,” Cognition in Language Use: Selected Papers from the 7th International Pragmatics Conference, Vol. 1. Edited by Eniko Nemeth. Antwerp: Belgium. 256-266. 2001b.
  • 2001a – “Tyotto: Speech act qualification in Japanese,” in Japanese Language and Literature Vol. 35:1 (formerly Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese). 1-16. 2001a.
  • 1999b “Japanese stylistic choices and ideologies across generations”, in Language and Ideology: Selected Papers from the 6th International Pragmatics Conference Vol. 1,(ed.) Jef Verschueren. Antwerp: International Pragmatics Association. 352-364.
  • 1999a “Sedai to kotoba no sentaku” (Generation and choice of language use), in Gengogaku to Nihongo Kyooiku - Jitsuyooteki Gengo Kenkyuu no Koochiku o Mezashite (Linguistics and Japanese Language Education: Toward Practical Linguistics Research), (ed.) Yukiko Sasaki Alam. Tokyo: Kurosio Syuppan. 33-48.
  • 1998a “The complementizer toyuu in Japanese”, in apanese/Korean Linguistics Volume 7, (ed.) Noriko Akatsuka. Center for the Study of Language and Information. 243-255.
  • 1997b “Preface” for the Special Issue on Japanese Pragmatics, in Journal of Pragmatics 28: 6. 659-660.
  • 1997a “The rise and fall of Japanese nonsubject honorifics: The case of ‘o-Verb-suru’”, in Journal of Pragmatics 28: 6. 719-740.
  • 1996b “Does less feminine speech in Japanese mean less femininity?”, in Gender and Belief Systems: Proceedings of the Fourth Berkeley Women and Language Conference. 455-467.
  • 1996a “Interaction of Factors in Construal: Japanese Relative Clauses”, in Grammatical Constructions: their form and meaning, (eds.) Masayoshi Shibatani and Sandra A. Thompson. Oxford University Press. 103-124.
  • 1994b “Imi kara mita rentai-syuusyoku no iroiro (Noun-modification from the semantic perspective)”, in Gengo vol. 9 (Sept.) (Language) 124-127. 1994.
  • 1994a “Acquisition of Japanese by American Businessmen in Tokyo: How much and why”, in Current Issues in Second Language Acquisition and Development, (ed.) Carol Blackshire-Belay. University Press of America. 119-140.
  • 1993b “Nihongo meisi-ku koozoo no goyooronteki koosatu (Pragmatics of Japanese Noun Phrases), in Nihongogaku vol. 12 (Nov.) (Japanese Linguistics). 101-114.
  • 1993a "Linguistic Politeness and Cultural Style: Observation from Japanese", in Japanese/Korean Linguistics Volume 2, (ed.) Patricia M. Clancy. Center for the Study of Language and Information. 55-67.
  • 1992 "Warranted requests: Speaker's strategies in Japanese", in Festschrift for Professor Okuda on the Occasion of her 70th Birthday, (eds.) The Festschrift Committee.
  • 1991b "Is it really a topic that is relativized?: Arguments from Japanese", in Proceedings of the 27th Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society.
  • 1991a "Role of Pragmatics in Japanese Relative Clauses", in Lingua 82. 111-129.
  • 1989b "Japanese-style Noun Modification ... in English", in Proceedings of the Fifteenth annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. 226-237.
  • 1989a "Politeness and Conversational Universals: Observations from Japanese", in Multilingua. 207-221.
  • 1988b "Reexamination of the Universality of Face: Politeness phenomena in Japanese", in Journal of Pragmatics 12. 403-426.
  • 1988a "Semantics and Pragmatics of Noun-Modifying Constructions in Japanese" in Proceedings of the Fourteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. 166-175.
  • 1985 "A Sort of Speech Act Qualification in Japanese: Chotto," in Journal of Asian Culture, Vol. IX. UCLA. 143-159.
  • 1981 "Bilingualism Among American Businessmen in Tokyo," in F.C.C. Peng and M. Hori(eds.) Language as Social Behavior: Sociolinguistics Series No.3. Bunka Hyooron publishing Company. Hiroshima: Japan. (in Japanese)
  • 1979 "Linguistic Behavior of Americans in Japan -- A case study of American businessmen in Tokyo," in Working Papers on Bilingualism in Japan. The University of Tsukuba. (in Japanese)


  • 2004 Review of Tomiko Narahara, Japanese Copula; Forms and Functions (2003; Palgrave) in Journal of Japanese Studies. 228-232.
  • 1986 Review of Janet Shibamoto's Japanese Women's Language (1985; Academic Press) in Studies in Second Language Acquisition 8:2.

Other Writing

  • 2009 “Manabi no Genten ni Tatsu: Freshman Seminar ga teikyoo suru mono” (At the Starting Point of Intellectual Learning: What Freshman Seminars offer). ‘Manabi no Tenkan’ to Gengo, Shikoo, Hyoogen.(‘Reorientation of Learning’ – Language, Thought, and Expression). University of Tohoku.


  • JAPANGEN 71N: Language and Gender in Japan: Myths and Reality (Freshman Seminar)
  • JAPANGEN 82N: Joys and Pains of Growing Up and Older: The Secret Lives of Old People in Japan (Freshman Seminar)
  • JAPANLIT 157: Points in Japanese Grammar
  • JAPANLIT 117/217: The Structure of Japanese
  • JAPANLNG 211-213: Advanced Modern Japanese
  • JAPANLIT 235, 236: Academic Readings in Japanese I, II
  • JAPANLIT 281: Japanese Pragmatics
  • JAPANLIT 289: Diversity in Japanese Language: Regional Dialects and their Images
  • JAPANLIT 291:Readings in Japanese Linguistics
  • JAPANLIT 377: Seminar in the Structure of Japanese
  • JAPANLIT 381: Topics in Japanese Discourse and Pragmatics
  • JAPANLNG 211-213: Advanced Modern Japanese

Current Funded Project

  • Presidential Funding for Innovation in the Humanities : Noun-Modifying Constructions in Languages of Eurasia: Reshaping theoretical and geographical boundaries
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