Welcome to Our Laboratory!

坂本勉写真When chatting with a friend, you may sometimes be puzzled by what he/she said. Or when reading a novel, you may strangely be drawn to some phrase encountered on a page. When we are listening to someone or reading a sentence, what on earth does it mean to feel a “?” or to understand a “!”?

At our laboratory, our research revolves around the question: "What kind of thing is it to understand a language?” To put it more formally, the purpose of our research is to reveal the process of "language understanding" by using the theory of linguistics along with the techniques of experimental psychology.

In this laboratory, we engage in the research of language based on a methodology that balances theory and experiment. Although the path to understanding may be long, we can only proceed step by step. However, we cannot walk this path alone. We must work together to move forward, building on discussions with various peers and colleagues, all the while never forgetting to have a little fun along the way!

Faculty of Humanities Prof. Sakamoto, Tsutomu

Outline of our Research Policy

Thus far, theoretical research in linguistics has advanced through the investigation of human language as a calculation system centered mainly in the framework of generative grammar. However, as the theoretical crystallization process proceeds, the issue of “interface” continues to attract the attention of many investigators: an interface between the core of the language calculation system and various cognitive devices related to language. Thus, theoretical linguistics has until now been indifferent to the question "How does a human being actually use language?" Although this can be attributed as the outcome of the theoretical crystallization process, it is also due to the fact that a concrete way of answering this question has not yet been developed.

In the field of linguistics, except in areas such as experimental phonetics, efforts have not been made to collect linguistic data of good quality and high precision through experimental methods. In psychology, on the other hand, language has been discussed in the research fields of learning, development, disorder, and memory, etc. However, in these cases language is not the object, but the means, of the research. Therefore, there is a risk of performing experiments that ignore the structure of language. For example, some research conducted on language has ignored the phonetic aspects of spoken language, treating it in the same way as written language. Furthermore, even if a certain experiment is conducted and results are obtained, a theory to explain the nature of the language data is necessary to explain what those results mean. Some research gives top priority to obtaining results from experiments and thus lacks the perspective necessary to see where those results lie in the whole of the language system.

In short, in order to explain the process of human language understanding, psycholinguistic research based on both psychological experiments and linguistic theory is necessary.


Name: SAKAMOTO, Tsutomu
Birthday: 26/Feb./1954.
Office: Deparment of Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities, Kyushu University
Hakozaki 6 chome 19-1, Higashi-ku Fukuoka City,812-8581
Phone: +81-92-642-2414
E-mail: sakamoto[AT]lit.kyushu-u.ac.jp
Replace [AT] to at-mark, please.
Web http://www.lit.kyushu-u.ac.jp/~sakamoto/
4/1973 - 3/1978
Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Letters, Kyoto University, Japan.
4/1978 - 3/1981
Department of Linguistics, Master's Program, Kyoto University, Japan.
4/1981 - 3/1984
Department of Linguistics, Doctor's Program, Kyoto University, Japan.
9/1984 - 3/1989
Department of Linguistics, Doctor's Program, City University of New York, USA.
B.A. in Linguistics Kyoto University, Japan.
M.A. in Linguistics Kyoto University, Japan.
Ph.D. (Linguistics) City University of New York, USA.
Positions held
4/1984 - 9/1984
Researcher of Linguistics at Kyoto University, Japan.
4/1989 - 9/1992
Lecturer at Department of Japanese Literature, Shoin women's University, Japan.
10/1992 - 3/2000
Associate Professor at Department of Applied Linguistics, Faculty of Letters,
Kyushu University, Japan.
3/2000 - Present
Professor at Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities,