Carnegie Mellon University

Kiyono Fujinaga-Gordon

Kiyono Fujinaga-Gordon

Assistant Teaching Professor of Japanese Studies

Department of Languages, Cultures & Applied Linguistics
4980 Margaret Morrison St
Posner Hall 341
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Ph.D., Linguistics, University at Buffalo
M.A., Japanese Linguistics, University of Tokyo
B.A., English Linguistics, Translation Studies, Teaching Japanese as a Second Language, Tsuda College



I was born and raised in Oita, Japan, where I was surrounded by people who spoke the same language and shared a similar cultural background. Due to the lack of diversity, I used to believe that people with blue eyes saw the world colored blue. Although I eventually outgrew this belief, in high school, I came across the concept of “Linguistic Relativity”: the idea that an individual’s spoken language affects their perception of the world. I was curious if this was simply a more sophisticated version of my blue eEyes hypothesis and was determined to learn more about language.

I moved to Tokyo for college, majoring in English linguistics. Afterwards, while pursuing a masters of arts in linguistics, I was shocked to learn that, in contrast to the popular claim that “everyone in Japan speaks Japanese,” there are multiple languages spoken in Okinawa prefecture that are not dialects of Japanese, but typologically distinct languages. Since then, I have worked documenting one of the languages – Miyako.

I came to the U.S. in 2016 to study linguistic documentation and typology. Instead, I wrote a dissertation about heritage language acquisition because I was fascinated by Japanese heritage children I taught in a small community in Buffalo, N.Y. My experience as an international student challenged me and opened my eyes to some of the struggles that those in minority groups face in the U.S. At Carnegie Mellon University, I advocate for people in minority groups and provide support for our international students.

    • Multilingualism
    • Minority stress
    • Japanese pedagogy
    • Language documentation
    • Japanese linguistics

    • Structure of Japanese (Japanese Linguistics)
    • Intermediate Japanese I & II
    • Advanced Japanese I
    • Anime: Visual Interplay Between Japan and the World

  • Field Bibliographer, Modern Language Association, 2021-2025

Fujinaga-Gordon, K. (2024). Development and acquisition of Japanese benefactive constructions: A role and reference grammar analysis (Ser. Empirical Approaches to Linguistic Theory, #24). Brill Academic Publishers, Inc.

Hasegawa, Y., Fujinaga-Gordon, K., Nakagawa, E., & Kanazawa, J. (2023). An advanced reading course in Japanese with Wikipedia: A case study. Japanese Language and Literature, 57(2), pp. 73-105.

Fujinaga-Gordon, K. (2020). The pragmatics of Japanese quotative constructions: A comparative study between Japanese and Japanese heritage language families. In M. Kirner-Ludwig (Ed.), Fresh perspectives on major issues in pragmatics (1st ed., pp. 101-119). Routledge.

Fujinaga, K. (2018). On the diminutive morpheme -gama in Ikema, a Ryukyuan language. Studies in Language, 42(3), pp. 734-753.

Fujinaga, K. & Fujii, S. (2017). Negotiating Pragmatics of Student’s Writing through Tutorials: A Case Study for Exploring World Japaneses. Sains Humanika, 9 (4-2), pp. 75-80.

Department Member Since 2023