Professor Kiri Lee

Interested in linguistics? Meet Professor Lee! Professor Lee was drawn to Cognitive Science through her investigation of language structure and mental grammar-- she is a linguist with specializations in Japanese and Korean. Right now, she is looking at the grammaticalization of Japanese and Korean plural morphemes. In these languages, although there are plural morphemes, they are optional. Instead, speakers use “classifiers” to show plurality of countable nouns. For example, in English, if there are two pens, "pen-s" is sufficient; however, in Korean/ Japanese, two pens must be specified with a classifier such as "two cylindrical objects". Professor Lee has realized that Japanese speakers have started using plural morphemes systematically in addition to classifiers. This process of aspects of language becoming a part of grammar is grammaticalization, which Professor Lee finds to be “very fascinating.” Her favorite aspect of Cog Sci at Lehigh is the students. “I get to interact with excellent students; I get to share my fascination-- my passion-- of the linguistics aspect of Cog Sci with them, so that’s very precious for me.”