Carnegie Mellon University

Kiyono Fujinaga-Gordon

Kiyono Fujinaga-Gordon

Assistant Teaching Professor of Japanese Studies

341 Posner Hall
Department of Modern Languages
Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

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


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 see the world colored blue. Although I eventually outgrew this belief, in highschool, 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 Eyes hypothesis and was determined to learn more about language.

I moved to Tokyo for college, majoring in English Linguistics. Afterwards, while pursuing an MA 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 US 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, NY. 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 US. At CMU, I would like to advocate for people in minority groups and provide support for our international students.

  • Japanese Linguistics
  • Language Documentation
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Pragmatics
  • Functional Linguistics (Role and Reference Grammar; Cognitive Construction Grammar; Usage-based Linguistics)
  • Field Bibliographer, Modern Language Association. 2021-2025
  • Hasegawa, Yoko., Fujinaga-Gordon, Kiyono., Nakagawa, Eri., and Kanazawa, Jun. (accepted). An advanced reading course in Japanese with Wikipedia: A case study. Japanese Language and Literature.
  • Borg, Simon., Anderson, Jason., Beaumont, Ben., Xie, Karin., Guo, Lora., Thorburn, Ross., Choi, TaeHee., Kim, Hyun Jin., Aizawa, Ikuya., and Fujinaga, Kiyono. (2022). The continuing professional development experiences and needs of English language teachers (Countries: China, Japan and Korea). London, UK: British Council.
  • Fujinaga-Gordon, Kiyono. (2021). The Pragmatics of Japanese Quotative Constructions: A Comparative Study between Japanese and Japanese Heritage Families. In: Kirner-Ludwig, Monika (ed.), Fresh Perspectives on Major Issues in Pragmatics. New York: Routledge. 101-119.
  • Fujinaga, Kiyono. (2018). On the diminutive morpheme -gama in Ikema, a Ryukyuan language. Studies in Language, 42(3), 734-753.
  • Fujinaga, Kiyono. & Fujii, Seiko. (2017). Negotiating Pragmatics of Student’s Writing through Tutorials: A Case Study for Exploring World Japaneses. Sains Humanika, 9 (4-2), 75-80.

Department Member Since 2023