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Yoshiko Matsumoto's research focuses on issues that emphasize the importance of context in understanding the structure, meaning, and use of language. She has worked on the pragmatics of linguistic constructions and the sociocultural aspects of discourse such as politeness theories, speech acts, bilingualism, relation among language, gender and age, ideology, and identity reflected in Japanese as a second language.

Her current research centers around conversational narratives (especially of older women), the integration of pragmatic factors in construction grammar, and the typology of noun-modifying constructions.

Matsumoto is a professor in the Asian Languages department, specializing in Japanese language and linguistics. She also is the coordinator of the Japanese Language Program. She received her Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley in 1989. Since coming to Stanford in 1992, she has served as the undergraduate major advisor and the department chair. She is also an affiliate of the Center for East Asian Studies, Linguistics Department, and Feminist Studies Program.

She was awarded a Japan Foundation Research Fellowship to study language, old age and gender in Japan in 2002, and hosted an interdisciplinary conference "Faces and Masks of Aging: Implications from the lives of Japanese elderly". Other awards she has received include the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching, a Richard E. Guggenheim Faculty Scholar Award, and a Stanford Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship. She is also an advisory editor of the Journal of Pragmatics and was an invited editor for a special issue of the Journal on Japanese pragmatics. A native of Tokyo, Japan, she was raised and educated there until entering the graduate program at Berkeley.

Key works

Co-edited with D. Oshima, O. Robinson and P. Sells. CSLI Publications, 2007

The Proceedings of the 30th Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society. Eds. M. Ettlinger, N. Fleisher, and M. Park-Doob. Berkeley Linguistics Society, 2005. 268-279

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

Studies in Language Companion Series 35. John Benjamins, 1997

Prof. Matsumoto in the News

June 30, 2014
By examining conversations of elderly Japanese women, linguist Yoshiko Matsumoto uncovers language...
May 24, 2013
PBS Next Avenue, May 24, 2013


  • Japanese Language
  • Japanese Linguistics
  • Japanese Culture
  • Pragmatics/Semantics
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Language and Aging
  • Language and Gender in Japan
  • Honorifics
  • Politeness Theories
  • Complex Noun Phrases
  • Bilingualism

Contact information


Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 1989