I am an associate professor of linguistics in the Department of Languages and Cultures at the University of the Ryukyus. As a linguist, I am in the business of figuring out how languages work. As a semanticist and pragmatician, I am interested in those aspects of language that bear on how meaning is encoded and conveyed. And as a Ryukyuanist, I document and analyze the endangered languages of the Ryukyus.
Semantics and Pragmatics
Semantics is the study of meaning. More specifically, it is (at least as I understand it) the study of those aspects of meaning that are conventionally encoded as part of the linguistic signal. My research in semantics focuses in large part on those areas of conventional meaning which impinge on areas traditionally considered part of pragmatics. My dissertation looked at the role of sentence final particles in Japanese, studying the ways that these particles shape the purpose to which an utterance is put in a conversation. I have also looked the role of focus particles in Yaeyaman, a Southern Ryukyuan language. In the last few years I’ve been collaborating with Elin McCready and Grégoire Winterstein on various issues in social meaning. Elin McCready and I have been developing an invocational account of slurs and other expressions.
The Ryukyuan language group is a sister language family of Japanese. Spoken from Amami island in the north to Yonaguni island in the southwest, Ryukyuan is a highly diverse language family, with a large number of subvarieties with varying degrees of mutual intelligibility and complex and as yet not fully resolved historical relationships with one another and with Japanese. A recent UNESCO classification sorts Ryukyuan into 6 distinct languages, but even within these languages, there is a great deal of variation. My research focuses on Yaeyaman, which is one of the three languages comprising the Southern Ryukyuan branch.
University of the Ryukyus
Department of Global and Regional Studies
1 Senbaru, Nishihara
Okinawa, Japan 903-0213
Send email correspondence to one of the following addresses:
cmdavis AT grc.u-ryukyu.ac.jp
cmdavis.linguist AT gmail DOT com