NOMURA Masuhiro

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NOMURA Masuhiro Professor

Linguistics and Literature / Linguistics and Western Languages
Specialized Field
English linguistics, cognitive linguistics, semantics
Research Subject
Cognitive grammar study of complex sentences, with special emphasis on internally-headed relative clauses in Japanese.
Japanese page
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Lab. Letters: Messages from the Laboratory

What’s the difference between ragan and nikugan? How to recognize the world in terms of language

Ragan and nikugan are Japanese words that are casually used in our daily lives, but can you explain how they’re used differently? Both words refer to how people see things without the aid of instruments, but ragan is used when one sees things without eyeglasses or contact lenses, whereas nikugan is used when one sees things without a telescope or a microscope. However, there’s no specific wording in English corresponding to these terms, so that the language makes do with the same expression for both: “the naked eye.”

Humans view the world through language. As mentioned above, people using a different language construe the world in a different manner, creating their own way of looking at the world. My students strive to clarify the relationship between language, cognition and the world by contrasting English grammar with Japanese grammar.

  • The Oxford English Dictionary covers English words and quotations from all ages. The one in the photo is the compact edition Professor Nomura purchased in America. He can’t read this dictionary with nikugan (the naked eye), so a magnifying glass is indispensable.
  • A doctoral thesis, a compilation of learning, is submitted after being bound in a fine hard cover as seen in the photo. It’s owned by the university and made available to the public.

Elucidate knowledge that hasn’t been visible like a line representing a constellation.

Language represents tacit knowledge, a skill humans acquire naturally, like breathing or walking. By retrieving and analyzing linguistic data in the brain, I strive to discover a mechanism that one uses implicitly. It can safely be said that, like constellation lines drawn to connect the space between stars, the moment when things that have been invisible begin to take form is the best part of learning. When teaching my students, I emphasize the importance of a close reading of the literature. The first place to start is to recognize what you know and what you don’t. Acquiring basic skills for reading and your own way of reading will surely create a further impetus for your research.

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