Research  
How can one word convey more than its meaning, or can it not? I have been astonished that we can sometimes sense an atmosphere just from the words uttered by others, even though it is ephemeral. My motives in research is to better understand the cognitive processes in which we humans use language to develop interpersonal relations, whether consciously or unconsiously.  
I have been fortunate to work with several distinguished and dedicated scientists and students to undertake collaborative experimental studies in search of answers. Our current projects include (1) East Asian sentence-final particles (SFPs) that, just on its one letter or mora (i.e., phonological unit that determines syllable weight in Japanese) with no substantial meanings,  arouse pleasant and unpleasant feelings in the addressees, as well as (2) Japanese Haiku, the shortest form of poetry in the world, with which poets pursue beauty by elaborate expressions so that they convey various emotions beyond the given literal meaning within the fixed form of 17 morae. 
 

ひとつのことばが、どうやってその意味以上のことを伝えたり、または伝えなかったりするのでしょうか。他人の発したことばにともなう空気を読んだり行間を読むことは、危うさをはらみながらも、それが叶うことがあることに驚かされます。人がことばを使って意識的にも無意識的にも対人関係を変えていく過程をとらえるような研究ができたら、と思います。 
 
その答えを得るために、共同研究者や学生たちの技量と献身に支えられて、実験プロジェクトを進めています。現在は、(1)たったひとつの一見無意味な音(モーラ)で人を喜ばせも怒らせもできる東アジア言語の文末詞、また(2)定型の中で字義以上の意味を効果的に美しく伝えることを信条とする俳句ー世界最短の定型詩ーを探求しています。

 
 
 

(1) East Asian Sentence-Final Particle (SFP) / 東アジア言語の文末詞(終助詞)
 
Sentence-final particles (SFPs) have no obvious effect on the truth condition of a sentence, but encompass a diverse range of usages to arouse different emotions. I am exploring how native Japanese speakers use SFPs (e.g., -ne and -yo) to modulate interpersonal distance with the others, utilizing neuroimaging techniques such as EEG and MRI (e.g., Kiyama, Verdonschot, Xiong, & Tamaoka, 2018). My long-term goal is to provide cross-linguistic insights into how SFPs play roles in face-to-face communication among speakers of East-Asian Languages, with particular focus on its individual differences and developmental changes. I am using some auditory materials for my SFP experiments as the following example:
 
文末詞(終助詞)は、それ自体文の真偽状態を左右するものではありませんが、様々な用法で感情を伝えます。日本語母語話者が人とやりとりをする際に、「ね」や「よ」などの文末詞を使ってどのように相手との心的距離を調節しているかを、MRIや脳波などの脳機能イメージング手法を援用して調べています(例えば Kiyama, Verdonschot, Xiong, & Tamaoka, 2018)。長期的には、終助詞が東アジア言語話者の対面コミュニケーションに果たす役割を、その個人差や発達的変化とあわせて、通言語的に明らかにしたいと考えています。実験には、以下のような音声刺激を使っています。 

 
Typical
particle
Orientation First turn Second turn
-ne Addressee 今度佐藤さんたちと温泉に行くんだ。

Kondo Satou-san-tati-to 
soon   Mr. Satou-others-COM 

onsen-ni iku-n-da.
spa-DAT go-NMLZ-COP

‘(I)’m going to the spa with
Mr. Satou and others soon.’
本当に温泉が好きだね(よ)。

Hontooni onsen-ga  
really      spa-NOM

suki-da-ne (-yo).
like-COP-SFP

‘(You) really like the spa.’

 -yo  Addresser もうお昼ご飯食べた?

Moo      ohirugohan
already lunch

tabe-ta?
eat-PST


‘Did (you) already eat lunch?’
近所でうどん食べたよ(ね)。

Kinjo-de      udon
nearby-LOC noodle

tabe-ta-yo (-ne).
eat-PST-SFP

‘(I) ate noodle nearby.’

 Notes:The abbreviations represent the followings. COM [Commitative case marker], DAT [Dative case marker], NMLZ [Nominalizer], COP [Copula], NOM [Nominative case marker], SFP [Sentence-final particle], PST [Past], LOC [Locative case marker]. Atypical marker is between parentheses.
 
 The previous turn of the addressee-oriented utterance  相手志向発話を作る先行発話: Sound file
 The addressee-oriented utterance ending with -ne 終助詞「ね」で終わる相手志向発話: Sound file
 
 
Kiyama, S., Verdonschot, R., Xiong, K., & Tamaoka, K. (2018). Individual mentalizing ability boosts flexibility toward a linguistic marker of social distance: An ERP investigation. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 47, 1-15.
Link 
 
 
 
 
 
(2) Haiku, the shortest form of poetry in the world / 俳句ー世界最短の定型詩ー
 
Haiku, which requires the inclusion of a kigo (season word), is composed based on an understanding of the richness of natural and cultural heritage of Japan, and entails peculiar humor or Haimi (taste of Haiku) thanks to some things that are better left unsaid. Composers and readers of Haiku enjoy the imaginative thoughts and feelings implied by the refined linguistic expressions via the traditional five-seven-five morae rhythm of Japanese folk song.
 
Our team, which includes cognitive neuroscientists and poets, is working together to obtain neural evidence for how Haiku enhances our quality of life, by examining the process of musical cognition of language that people undergo while they enjoy Haiku. Now, we invite all those who are interested in language to participate in a meeting to compose Haiku, where we intend to share the joy of creative activity with all the participants, as well as collect and evaluate fantastic novel Haiku pieces which will subsequently be used as stimuli for our neurolinguistic experiments. Please join as, just to have fun!
 
 
季語を含む俳句は、日本固有の豊かな自然や文化の理解に依ってなりたち、すべてを言い尽くさないところから独特のおかしみー俳味ーをたたえます。俳句の作り手と読み手は、日本歌謡の原型である五七五のリズムとともに、洗練されたことばが喚起するイメージをふくらませます。
 
認知神経科学研究者と俳人の協同により、このような音楽的感受性を通してことばのイメージを統合する過程を調べ、定型詩鑑賞が人生の質にもたらす効用について明らかにしたいと思っています。俳句の創作活動の喜びをともにし、俳句の神経言語学的実験の題材を集めるために、俳句大会を行います。ことばに興味ある方でしたらどなたでもご参加いただけます。いっしょに楽しい一日を過ごしませんか?
詳細
 
 
 
 
 
My mediocre Haiku in the early spring / 私の早春の駄句
 
   学生たちの卒業を控えて
竜天に若きらともに昇るかな
 
     For soon-to-be-graduates
Ryuu ten ni   wakaki ra tomo ni   noboru ka na
The dragon and the young rise far away together in the sky.