Patricia M. Clancy

Associate Professor Emerita


Language acquisition; language socialization; Japanese/Korean linguistics; discourse and grammar


I have always been fascinated by language acquisition because I believe that if we can understand how children learn language, we will gain a deeper understand of language itself. Consistent with the discourse-based approach to linguistics in this department, I view grammar as fundamentally and profoundly shaped by the everyday talk (discourse) in which it is used. As children and adults, we experience grammar in and through this talk; as a result, our knowledge of grammar arising from this experience is permeated with discourse information. In my work on the acquisition of Korean grammar, I focus on speakers’ motivations for using particular grammatical forms and constructions, emphasizing he powerful connections between discourse, lexicon, and clause-level grammar. When we locate grammar in discourse, we also situate it in a specific cultural context. In my work on language socialization, I have explored the role that language plays in the process by which young children come to think, feel, and act—as well as to speak—in culture-specific ways, while internalizing the ideologies underlying these patterns. Grammar in use exists in constant interaction with human cognition and culture; trying to understand this interplay is what motivates me most as a psycholinguist.


1980 Ph.D, University of California, Berkeley