Currently Active Projects
Pauses and linguistic complexity
My study of hesitation phenomena in second language development (see below) has continued with a new grant-in-aid from Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences (JSPS) for a research project titled " Relationship between Silent and Filled Pauses and Syntactic Structure in Second Language Use" (in Japanese, 「第二言語使用時における無声・有声休止と文構造の関連性」). This project is investigating the domain of syntactic complexity that drives the occurence of silent versus filled pauses. In particular, the study focuses on what we can learn through a crosslinguistic comparison of English and Japanese—typologically contrastive languages—and the evidence that can be gained from second language learners between these two languages.
Science and Engineering Learner Corpus (SELCor)
In collaboration with Prof. Hinako Masuda, I have been working on organizing a corpus of elicited productions from STEM students who are English learners. We aim to build a corpus that includes both first and second language elicitations from each participant, includes both speech and writing components, tries to elicit the kind of language that STEM students might expect to use professionally, and also can be made publicly available for research or teaching purposes. This project is currently in the pilot stage. A public component will probably be available in a year or so.
Word Quiz Constructor (WQC)
In the CELESE program, there is a strong emphasis on vocabulary development, focusing in part on the Coxhead Academic Word List. In order to ease the evaluation of vocabulary learning in students, I have developed an application to create academic word list quizzes en masse and automatically from on-line and off-line corpora. The tool creates unique quizzes for each of the 48 sections of Academic Reading taught in CELESE, and can even create question banks which can be uploaded to learning management systems.
Filled pauses and other hesitation phenomena
I have long been interested in the nature of filled pauses (uh, um) in spontaneous speech. My particular area of interest is interlanguage hesitation strategies: how do second language speakers 'fill' their pauses and how are those pauses perceived by native listeners? I outline my story about these issues and further implications for language teaching in my master's dissertation as well as in this paper. Also, I maintain the Filled Pause Research Center (FPRC), a site devoted to study of filled pauses and other hesitation phenomena.
"Hesitation phenomena in second language development"
From 2012-2015, I received a 3 year Grant-in-Aid from Japan's Society for the Promotion of Sciences (JSPS) for a research project titled " Hesitation Phenomena in Second Language Development" (in Japanese, 「第二言語習得における躊躇現象」). I gathered and organized a corpus of first and second language speech by native speakers of Japanese with parallel elicitation tasks in each language. The corpus, called the Crosslinguistic Corpus of Hesitation Phenomena (CCHP) is publicly available and distributed through the Filled Pause Research Center ( CCHP project page at FPRC). The corpus includes word and interval annotation as well as mark-up for all hesitation phenomena. See the FPRC web site for access to the corpus and news and updates.
In past years, I have taken some interest in how to develop learner autonomy. I have experimented in the classroom with some different methods for doing this. In one elective course I teach in the Waseda University Faculty of Science and Engineering, I worked on helping students to develop the skills to autonomously diagnose their own English pronunciation problems, decide how to solve those problems, and then evaluate their progress. Similarly, in a comprehension course I taught on a part-time basis at Tokyo University, I guided student groups through the process of selecting materials, preparing focused comprehension lesson plan, teaching the lesson, and then evaluating learner comprehension afterward. I gathered data and gave oral presentations about both of these learner autonomy projects. See my Presentations page for further details.
The Syntactic and Semantic Prominence and the Salience of Discourse Entities
Beginning my doctoral dissertation work, I have examined the influence of semantic entailments imposed on a discourse entity by a predicate on that entity's discourse salience for such processes as pronominalization or pronoun resolution. I have investigated this with both psycholinguistic experiments and corpus analysis. In 2005, I defended my dissertation under the advisership of Prof. Stefan Kaufmann of Northwestern University. I also have presented a few papers on this topic at several conferences. See my Papers page for a complete list.
Japanese nickname phonology
In Japanese, nicknames are often constructed (especially for girls, children, and intimates) by truncation of the given name and suffixation with chan. However, depending on the root name, differing effects can be observed at the juncture. For instance, Masahiro can become Masachan, Maachan, and possibly Matchan (where the tch represents a geminated affricate). However, Tetsuya becomes only Tetchan and never Teechan or Tetsuchan while Kumiko becomes Kumichan but never Kuuchan or Kutchan. I am developing an account of this variation which also incorporates similar facts from derived compounds (e.g., /koku/ 'country' + /kai/ 'assembly' = /kokkai/ 'The Japanese Diet'). In this paper, I present an optimality theoretic account of this phenomenon using a variable constraint ranking paradigm.