Patricia M. Clancy

Associate Professor Emerita

Contact Phone

(805) 893-8658


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

Current Projects

  • Discourse-functional approach to the acquisition of Korean argument structure
  • Discourse foundations of the Korean copula construction in acquisition
  • Role of dialogic priming in the acquisition of Korean argument marking


In press. First language acquisition. In C. Genetti (ed.), How Languages Work: An Introduction to Language and Linguistics. New York: Cambridge University Press.

2009 The acquisition of argument structure and transitivity in Korean: A discourse-functional approach. In P. Li (ed.), Handbook of East Asian Psycholinguistics, C. Lee, Y. Kim, and G. Simpson (eds.). Part III: Korean Psycholinguistics, New York: Cambridge University Press.

2009 Dialogic priming and the acquisition of argument marking in Korean. In J. Guo, E. Lieven, S. Ervin-Tripp, N. Budwig, S. ?zçali?kan, K. Nakamura (eds.), Crosslinguistic Approaches to the Psychology of Language: Research in the Tradition of Dan Isaac Slobin (105-117). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

2007 Discourse-functional correlates of argument structure in Korean acquisition. In N. McGloin (ed.), Japanese/Korean Linguistics 15, 1-20. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

2004 The discourse basis of constructions: Some evidence from Korean. In Proceedings of the 32nd Stanford Child Language Research Forum, E. Clark (ed.). 

2003 The lexicon in interaction: Developmental origins of Preferred Argument Structure in Korean. In J. W. Du Bois, L. Kumpf, and W. Ashby (eds.), Preferred Argument Structure: Grammar as architecture for function. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

1999 The socialization of affect in Japanese mother-child conversation. In R. Kanagy (ed.), Language Socialization and Affect in First and Second Language Acquisition, Special issue (11), Journal of Pragmatics 31: 1397-1421.

1996 Referential strategies and the co-construction of argument structure in Korean acquisition. In B. Fox (ed.), Studies in Anaphora, 33-68. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

1986 The acquisition of Japanese communicative style. In E. Ochs & B. Schieffelin (eds.), Language Acquisition and Socialization across Cultures, 213-50. New York: Cambridge University Press.

1986 The Acquisition of Japanese.  Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (Also appears as Chap. 4 in Dan I. Slobin (ed.), The Crosslinguistic Study of Language Acquisition, Vol. 1. Hillsdale, NJ. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1985. 373-524.)


Linguistics 137/237: First Language Acquisition
Linguistics 138/288: Language Socialization
Linguistics 214: Discourse
Linguistics 226: Cognitive Foundations of Language
Linguistics 265: Acquisition of Grammar