The 15th President of the PSJ

About the Phonetic Society of Japan

The 15th President of the PSJ

What is the Phonetic Society of Japan (PSJ)?

The PSJ was founded in 1926 as Nihon Onseigaku Kyokai (literally translated as Japan Phonetic Society), making it the oldest academic society in Japan that focuses on the study of languages. This means that the society will celebrate its centenary in 2026.

Since its establishment, the PSJ has been providing its members with various opportunities, from academic presentations to valuable interactions. A general meeting is held annually in September, while research meetings are held twice a year in June and December. In addition, there are various workshops and lectures held on a non regular basis by the PSJ, including the very popular training sessions with the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet).

Up to 200 to 300 pages of peer-reviewed papers, written in either Japanese or English, are published annually in the Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan (JPSJ, aka Onsei Kenkyu). These papers are publicly available via the J-STAGE system; they can be accessed by anyone, whether or not they are members of the PSJ.

Members of the PSJ are welcome to submit research papers for consideration for publication in the JPSJ, as well as to submit abstracts for consideration for oral/poster presentations at the annual/research meetings. Members can also participate, at discounted fees, in various events held by the PSJ.

Currently, the Society counts about 750 individual members, 90 of whom are students. There are no specific qualifications required to become a member: anyone interested in phonetics can join (refer to this page for the membership fee).

The administration of the Society is conducted by 50 councilors elected by academic (non student) members, nine members of the board of directors elected by councilors, and the president, who is elected by the members of the board of directors. Currently, the proportion of women in the PSJ administration is 13 to 50 for the councilors and 4 to 9 for the board of directors.

What is phonetics?

The objective of the Society has been defined as β€œto promote the study of various languages.” What is meant here is the description of consonants and vowels in various natural languages, and the analysis of their accentual and intonational systems.

The objective mentioned above has also been one of the research goals of modern phonetics since the 19th century. It is also a long-term goal of phonetics to contribute, through scientific research, to the pedagogy of foreign language pronunciation education.

In addition to these long-established goals, however, current phonetic studies are being conducted with a much wider scope than ever before. Indeed, recent academic presentations at PSJ meetings include studies of the acoustic characteristics of speech (so-called acoustic phonetics) and of speech perception, studies aimed at the clarification of the process of foreign language acquisition, studies of speech acquisition by infants, sociolinguistic studies of ongoing sound changes, studies of speech production using physiological techniques, brain-science studies of speech perception and production, in addition to the development of language resources for applications for speech information processing, the development of communication-aid systems using text-to-speech synthesis techniques, to mention just a few.

The background of PSJ members may be related to psychology, medicine, engineering, and information processing, as well as to more traditional fields such as linguistics, phonetics and foreign language studies. In the PSJ, members from different backgrounds are given opportunities to interact with each other through their common interest in speech.

PSJ in the future

Almost a century of PSJ activities has been supported by the devoted efforts of our forerunners. In order to maintain the vitality of the society and strengthen the significance of our efforts, we need to further think about the role of the PSJ in regards to current global issues.

For instance, the promotion of English education in elementary schools in Japan is a social issue that may be related, directly and indirectly, to the activities of the PSJ. It is part of our mandate to be mindful of such social issues, while maintaining high standards of scientific research that our predecessors have established.