Updated on 2023/12/09


SAJI, Noburo
Faculty of Human Sciences, School of Human Sciences
Job title
Associate Professor(tenure-track)
博士(学術) ( 慶應義塾大学 )

Research Experience

  • 2018.04

    Kamakura Women's University   Faculty of Child Studies Department of Child Psychology   Associate Professor

  • 2014.04

    Kamakura Women's University   Faculty of Child Studies Department of Child Psychology   Senior Lecturer

  • 2011.04

    Japan Society for the Promotion of Science   Postdoctoral Fellow

Education Background

  • 2006.04

    Keio University   Graduate School of Media and Governance  

Research Areas

  • Experimental psychology   Psycholinguistics, Language development, Language and thought, Symbolic communication

Research Interests

  • symbolic communication

  • language and thought

  • language development



  • 言語習得研究のこれまでとこれから

    今井むつみ, 佐治伸郎

    認知科学   30 ( 1 ) 63 - 73  2023.03

    Authorship:Corresponding author

  • Deaf and hard-of-hearing people can detect sound symbolism: Implications for the articulatory origin of word meaning.

    Mutsumi Imai, Kimi Akita, Sotaro Kita, Noburo Saji, Masato Ohba, Miki Nakatame

    The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the Joint Conference on Language Evolution     325 - 332  2022

  • From green to turquoise: Exploring age and socioeconomic status in the acquisition of color terms

    Molly E. Scott, Junko Kanero, Noburo Saji, Yu Chen, Mutsumi Imai, Roberta M. Golinkoff, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

    First Language    2022

     View Summary

    Previous research demonstrates that children delineate more nuanced color boundaries with increased exposure to their native language. As socioeconomic status (SES) is known to correlate with differences in the amount of language input children receive, this study attempts to extend previous research by asking how both age (age 3 vs 5) and SES (under-resourced vs advantaged) might impact color name acquisition of preschool children. The results confirm the findings of previous research, showing that older children labeled the color continuum more accurately than did younger participants. In addition, we found that while SES did not make a difference in how children labeled the continuum using basic color terms (e.g. blue), basic color terms with achromatic modifiers (e.g. light blue), and compound terms (e.g. blueish-green), 5-year-olds from more advantaged economic environments used significantly more non-basic color terms (e.g. turquoise) compared to their counterparts from under-resourced environments. We suggest that, as children hear more non-basic terms, these world-to-word mappings become solidified, and exposure to such labels may contribute to the timing of when children can map those terms to the color continuum.



  • Acquisition of the Meaning of the Word Orange Requires Understanding of the Meanings of Red, Pink, and Purple: Constructing a Lexicon as a Connected System

    Noburo Saji, Mutsumi Imai, Michiko Asano

    Cognitive Science   44 ( 1 )  2020.01

     View Summary

    This research investigated how children build up the language-specific system of the color lexicon, examining factors that play important roles for the construction of an adult-like color lexicon. We had 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old Japanese-speaking children and adults (n = 20, 18, 19, and 19, respectively) produce names for 93 color swatches. The results showed that children of all ages were able to apply most of the chromatic words to the colors close to the center of each category, but even 5-year-olds struggle to delineate the boundaries between the words. Furthermore, the model analyses revealed that broad-covering and high-frequency words are mapped to the center of the lexical category earlier. However, cross-individual consistency in adults' use contributed most strongly for the adult-like boundary delineation. The results suggest that the process of system construction consists of at least two steps (i.e., mapping words to their category center and finding appropriate boundaries between neighboring words), with the quantity and the quality of the input contributing differently to the steps.

    DOI PubMed


  • Cross-linguistically shared and language-specific sound symbolism in novel words elicited by locomotion videos in Japanese and English

    Noburo Saji, Kimi Akita, Katerina Kantartzis, Sotaro Kita, Mutsumi Imai

    PLoS ONE   14 ( 7 )  2019.07

     View Summary

    This paper demonstrates a new quantitative approach to examine cross-linguistically shared and language-specific sound symbolism in languages. Unlike most previous studies taking a hypothesis-testing approach, we employed a data mining approach to uncover unknown sound-symbolic correspondences in the domain of locomotion, without limiting ourselves to pre-determined sound-meaning correspondences. In the experiment, we presented 70 locomotion videos to Japanese and English speakers and asked them to create a sound symbolically matching word for each action. Participants also rated each action on five meaning variables. Multivariate analyses revealed cross-linguistically shared and language-specific sound-meaning correspondences within a single semantic domain. The present research also established that a substantial number of sound-symbolic links emerge from conventionalized form-meaning mappings in the native languages of the speakers.

    DOI PubMed


  • The Characterization Study on the Categorization of Learning Synonymous Verbs for Japanese-speaking Learners of Chinese.

    Wang, C, Hong, C, Saji,N., Liu, X

    Modern Foreign Languages   41 ( 4 ) 493 - 504  2018

  • An empirical study on verbs of cutting and breaking in Chinese and Japanese

    Wang, C, Hong, C, Saji,N

    Foreign Language Teaching and Research   50 ( 4 ) 516 - 528  2018  [Refereed]

  • Context sensitivity in verb learning: Effects of communicative demand on organization processes in lexical development.

    Saji, N, Wang, C, Hong,C, Ohba, M

    Journal of Cognitive Linguistics   3   40 - 55  2018  [Refereed]

    Authorship:Lead author, Corresponding author

  • Differences in the Characteristics of Cooking Operations and Procedures between Novices and Experts

    Hitomi Takahashi, Noburo Saji, Yukie Yanagisawa

    Journal of Cookery Science of Japan   51 ( 6 ) 315 - 325  2018  [Refereed]

  • 幼児の類推における自発的言語化の効果

    齊藤都, 佐治伸郎, 廣田昭久

    認知科学   24 ( 3 ) 376 - 394  2017  [Refereed]

  • 日本語オノマトペの理解 :アニメーションを用いたマッチング実験を通して

    中石ゆうこ, 佐治伸郎, 今井むつみ 酒井弘

    Studies in Language Sciences   14   184 - 205  2016  [Refereed]

  • Human locomotion in languages: Constraints on moving and meaning

    Barbara C. Malt, Eef Ameel, Mutsumi Imai, Silvia P. Gennari, Noburo Saji, Asifa Majid

    Journal of Memory and Language   74   107 - 123  2014.07

     View Summary

    The distinctions between red and yellow or arm and hand may seem self-evident to English speakers, but they are not: Languages differ in the named distinctions they make. To help understand what constrains word meaning and how variation arises, we examined name choices in English, Dutch, Spanish, and Japanese for 36 instances of human locomotion. Naming patterns showed commonalities largely interpretable in terms of perceived physical similarities among the instances. There was no evidence for languages jointly ignoring salient physical distinctions to build meaning on other bases, nor for a shift in the basis of word meanings between parts of the domain of more vs. less importance to everyday life. Overall, the languages differed most notably in how many named distinctions they made, a form of variation that may be linked to linguistic typology. These findings, considered along with naming patterns from other domains, suggest recurring principles of constraint and variation across domains. © 2013 Elsevier Inc.



  • Mimetic Vowel Harmony in Japanese.

    Akita, K, Imai, M, Saji, N, Kantartzis, K, Kita, S

    Japan/Korean Linguistics   20   125 - 129.  2013  [Refereed]

  • Evolution of Verb Meanings in Children and L2 Adult Learners Through Reorganization of an Entire Semantic Domain: The Case of Chinese Carry/Hold Verbs

    Noburo Saji, Mutsumi Imai

    Scientific Studies of Reading   17 ( 1 ) 71 - 88  2013.01

     View Summary

    The meaning of a word is not acquired in isolation from other words. This article investigates how first-language (L1) and adult second-language (L2) learners of Chinese learn the meanings of verbs belonging to the same semantic domain, focusing on the semantic domain of "carrying/holding" in Chinese. Results revealed that the verb use of L2 adults is heavily influenced by their lexical knowledge of L1 and that their development of word meanings stops before they fully reach the adult native speakers' word meaning. L1 children in contrast tend to depend on perceptually visible features of actions at the initial stage of lexical acquisition and then gradually learn how their L1 categorizes the actions by verbs. We argue that L2 learners need to attain meta-knowledge about the mapping of the entire configuration of the corresponding lexical domain between L1 and L2 and discuss how reading inside and outside of the classroom could foster this process. © 2013 Copyright 2013 Society for the Scientific Study of Reading.



  • 中国語を母語とする学習者は日本語のオノマトペをどの程度使用できるのか-アニメーションを用いた産出実験を中心として-

    中石ゆうこ, 佐治伸郎, 今井むつみ, 酒井弘

    中国語話者のための日本語教育研究   2   42 - 58  2011

  • Word learning does not end at fast-mapping: Evolution of verb meanings through reorganization of an entire semantic domain

    Noburo Saji, Mutsumi Imai, Henrik Saalbach, Yuping Zhang, Hua Shu, Hiroyuki Okada

    Cognition   118 ( 1 ) 45 - 61  2011.01

     View Summary

    This paper explores the process through which children sort out the relations among verbs belonging to the same semantic domain. Using a set of Chinese verbs denoting a range of action events that are labeled by carrying or holding in English as a test case, we looked at how Chinese-speaking 3-, 5-, and 7-year-olds and adults apply 13 different verbs to a range of carrying/holding events. We asked how children learning Chinese originally divide and label the semantic space in this domain, how they discover the boundaries between different words, and how the meanings of verbs in the domain as a whole evolve toward the representations of adults. We also addressed the question of what factors make verb meaning acquisition easy or hard. Results showed that the pattern of children's verb use is largely different from that of adults and that it takes a long time for children to be able to use all verbs in this domain in the way adults do. We also found that children start to use broad-covering and frequent verbs the earliest, but use of these verbs tends to converge on adult use more slowly because children could not use these verbs as adults did until they had identified boundaries between these verbs and other near-synonyms with more specific meanings. This research highlights the importance of systematic investigation of words that belong to the same domain as a whole, examining how word meanings in a domain develop as parts of a connected system, instead of examining each word on its own: learning the meaning of a verb invites restructuring of the meanings of related, neighboring verbs. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

    DOI PubMed


  • L2 習得における類義語の使い分けの学習:複数のことばの意味関係理解の定量的可視化の試み

    佐治伸郎, 梶田祐次, 今井むつみ

    Second Language   9   83 - 100  2010

▼display all

Books and Other Publications

  • クオリアと言語(科学2023年6月号特集【意識とクオリアの科学は可能か】)

    佐治伸郎( Part: Sole author)

    岩波書店  2023.05

  • 発達172:子どものことば、再発見!


    ミネルヴァ書房  2022.11 ISBN: 4623094804


  • 認知科学講座1 心と身体


    東京大学出版会  2022.09 ISBN: 4130152017


  • 認知言語学の未来に向けて : 辻幸夫教授退職記念論文集

    菅井, 三実, 八木橋, 宏勇

    開拓社  2022.03 ISBN: 9784758923675

  • 実験認知言語学の深化

    篠原, 和子, 宇野, 良子

    ひつじ書房  2021.05 ISBN: 9784823410055

  • 認知言語学と談話機能言語学の有機的接点 : 用法基盤モデルに基づく新展開

    中山, 俊秀, 大谷, 直輝

    ひつじ書房  2020.12 ISBN: 9784894769953

  • 信号、記号、そして言語へ : コミュニケーションが紡ぐ意味の体系

    佐治, 伸郎

    共立出版  2020.02 ISBN: 9784320094635

  • 言語と身体性

    今井, むつみ, 佐治, 伸郎, 山崎, 由美子(生物心理学), 浅野, 倫子, 渡邊, 淳司, 大槻, 美佳, 松井, 智子, 喜多, 壮太郎, 安西, 祐一郎, 岡田, 浩之, 橋本, 敬, 増田, 貴彦

    岩波書店  2014.07 ISBN: 9784000113717

  • オノマトペ研究の射程 : 近づく音と意味

    篠原, 和子, 宇野, 良子(語意習得における類像性の効果の検討―親の発話と子どもの理解の観点から)

    ひつじ書房  2013.04 ISBN: 9784894765962

▼display all


  • 蒲鉾の利用実態調査に基づく新商品・レシピ提案,および香気成分分析に関する研究

    河内公恵, 山口真由, 佐治伸郎, 牧田知江子

    鎌倉女子大学学術研究所報   22  2022


  • 蒲鉾の利用実態調査に基づく新商品・レシピ提案,および香気成分分析に関する研究

    河内公恵, 山口真由, 佐治伸郎, 牧田知江子

    鎌倉女子大学学術研究所報   21  2021


  • 意味の共有感覚と記号接地問題


    日本認知科学会大会発表論文集(CD-ROM)   35th  2018


  • 記号の意味はシステムの中で生まれる

    今井むつみ, 佐治伸郎, 浅野倫子, 大石みどり, 岡田浩之

    人工知能学会全国大会論文集(CD-ROM)   29th  2015


  • 子どもの色語の獲得過程

    大石みどり, 佐治伸郎, 浅野倫子, 今井むつみ

    日本認知科学会大会発表論文集(CD-ROM)   31st  2014


  • The Development of Linguistic Cues for Event-Verb Mapping in Japanese Children

    坂本杏子, 佐治伸郎, 佐治伸郎, 今井むつみ, 酒井弘

    電子情報通信学会技術研究報告   113 ( 174(TL2013 14-40) )  2013


  • オノマトペと音象徴

    篠原和子, 平田佐智子, 佐治伸郎, 秋田喜美, 秋田喜美, 宇野良子, 井上加寿子

    日本認知科学会大会発表論文集(CD-ROM)   27th  2010


  • 言語獲得における意味の再編成過程に言語が与える影響に関する研究

    佐治伸郎, 今井むつみ

    日本認知科学会大会発表論文集(CD-ROM)   26th  2009


  • 慣用的に組み合わされる助詞,用言句のパターン分析による,名詞の意味情報抽出に関する研究

    山沢美由起, 佐治伸郎, 稲葉陽子, 深谷昌弘

    情報処理学会全国大会講演論文集   65th ( 2 )  2003


▼display all



▼display all



  • Faculty of Human Sciences   School of Human Sciences (Online Degree Program)

  • Faculty of Human Sciences   Graduate School of Human Sciences