RIJS People Faculty
Professor of Linguistics, Emeritus
After obtaining an A.B. and A.M. in linguistics from Tokyo University working on Dravidian linguistics, Professor Susumu Kuno came to the United States in 1960 to work on a machine-translation project at Harvard. He developed a large-scale system for parsing structures of English sentences by computer, and earned his Ph.D. in linguistics in 1964 with a dissertation that gave linguistic and computational foundations for that system. Professor Kuno joined the faculty of the Harvard Department of Linguistics that year. For about ten years, he was involved in the teaching of first- and fourth-year Japanese and coordination of the Japanese Program in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations. His attempts to explain student mistakes in producing Japanese sentences led to research in Japanese lingustics, a field far removed from his previous interests, resulted in the publication of his first book, The Structure of the Japanese Language, by MIT Press in 1972. His work on "giving" and "receiving" verbs in Japanese made him realize that the notion of empathy, or points of view, is extendable to analysis of other languages, including English. Research along these lines led to constructing a general theory of "Empathy Perspective," and, further, to constructing a general linguistic theory called "Functional Syntax."