Utako Minai, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics
Director, Developmental Psycholinguistics Lab
University of Kansas
1541 Lilac Ln., Blake Hall Room 404
Lawrence, KS 66045 USA
minai [at] ku [dot] edu (email)
+1-785-864-1559 (phone)
+1-785-864-5724 (fax)

My research primarily investigates first language acquisition and language processing by preschool-age children. I am particularly interested in (i) how children acquire the knowledge of language meaning at various levels (meaning of words, sentences and utterances), (ii) how children utilize the knowledge of meaning in real-time language processing and the comparison of multiple related meanings, and (iii) how children's development in meaning comprehension interacts with their non-linguistic cognitive development. I address these research issues by conducting experimental studies, utilizing linguistic comprehension tasks, cognitive tasks and the visual world eye-tracking paradigm. I am also interested in cross-linguistic aspects of child language development and language processing. My current languages of research include English, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese. Part of my research program investigates adults' meaning comprehension and processing both in their first and second languages, expanding my research scope from childhood language acquisition to adulthood language learning, as studying both first language acquisition and second language acquisition would ultimately help us better understand the precise nature of human language development across the lifespan.

I direct a research laboratory, the Developmental Psycholinguistics Lab. A group of student research assistants, both undergraduate and graduate, are working with me on various projects on child language. We visit local preschools to conduct our studies, as well as invite study participants to our lab.

I teach a variety of courses in linguistics on a regular basis, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including First Language Acquisition (I & II), Seminar in First Language Acquisition (topic varies), Research Methods in Child Language and The Structure of Japanese.

I also serve as a core faculty member of the Child Language Doctoral Program and the Center for East Asian Studies. I am actively engaged in various outreach activities to disseminate knowledge on child language, Japanese linguistics and acquisition of Japanese.