KATO Shigehiro


KATO Shigehiro Professor
Research Subject
  • Japanese Grammar (chiefly, modification structure, parts of speech, postpositional particles, tense and aspect in predicate semantics, modality and quantification floating)
  • Pragamatics (discourse markers, world knowledge organization, memory-based model of context, deixis, and semantic calculation or interpretation processing),
  • Foundamental Theory of Linguistics / Sociolinguistics / Psycholinguistics (psychopragmatics)
Research Fields
General Linguistics, Japanese Linguistics, Linguistic Pragmatics
Faculty - Division / Research Group / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Research Group of Linguistics / Laboratory of Linguistics
Graduate School - Division / Department / Laboratory
Division of Humanities / Department of Linguistics / Laboratory of Linguistics
School - Course / Laboratory
Division of Humanities and Human Sciences / Course of Linguistics and Literature / Laboratory of Linguistics

Office/Lab: 406
TEL: +81-11-706-4070
Email: kato(at)let.hokudai.ac.jp
Replace “(at)” with “@” when sending email.

Foreign exchange students who want to be research students (including Japanese residents) should apply for the designated period in accordance with the “Research Student Application Guidelines”. Even if you send an email directly to the staff, there is no reply.
Related Links


Laboratory of LinguisticsKATO Shigehiro Professor

Language does not always convey the literal meaning---“chotto” does not mean only “a little”.
We make use of context, or read between the lines, to understand the full meaning of what people say.

When a customer asks at the bookstore “Do you have books titled XXX?”, the shop clerk answers just “Chotto…” This word originally means a small quantity, but this utterance does not mean “they have just a few books of that title”. Most Japanese can easily interpret it as “they do not have any” because “chotto” is used here as a discourse maker, which implies that the speaker cannot meet the hearer’s request or wish. We convey and receive more than what is expressed into words. This is because most of us can make use of context. My field of interest is pragmatics, which deals with implicatures, the meaning conveyed beyond the literal meaning of utterances. Our communication does not work without adequate understanding of implicatures.

If you research Japanese linguistically, topics and questions are inexhaustible. Do you know “neo-dialect”, which a sort of interlanguage between a local dialect and the standard Japanese? Every day new expressions and usages come into the world and we discover novel changes of our language. For instance, technology usually brings about big changes in our communication style and language itself. “Nau”, which is borrowed from English, is a new type of SNS slang in Japanese. Interestingly, it is located after the pivot word, which does not follow the strict word order rule in Japanese.

Is the doubled honorifics not allowed in Japanese?

Some books point out that doubled honorifics, such as “Goshichaku nasaimasu-ka”, grammatically wrong, but this description itself is not scientific and totally wrong. It is true that doubled honorifics are redundant and excessively polite, but it is correct in terms of the language structure and grammatical rules. As long as they are used, languages invariably fluctuate. Even novel and strange expressions, if regarded as necessary in the speech community, will remain as parts of the language.

The most powerful driving force for an affluent research life is your independence. Of course, as a supervisor, I am willing to provide support for your academic presentations and paper submissions.

Why not foster logical thinking through linguistic analysis, as well as improving your ability to gain an in-depth understanding of things?


Linguistic research targeting the Japanese language encompasses a variety of disciplines and methods and is taking on a complex nature as it is becoming more and more advanced and specialized. While I specialize in Japanese linguistics — especially pragmatics, syntax, sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics, I am interested in all subbranches of linguistics as well as various academic realms. I am also engaged in linguistic research from the perspective of Complex Adaptive System, in which diverse disciplines including physics, mathematics, meteorology, sociology, psychology and artificial intelligence research play a key role as well. Why not seek out a door leading to a new world from the field of Japanese linguistics?