Assistant Professor of linguistics, Doshisha University

About me

My name

My first name is quite simple: "Yu". In English, you can pronounce it just like the second person pronoun "you" [ˈju] or [ˈjʉ] (but it shouldn't be reduced as in [jə]). --- So you don't really have to remember my name. You can just say "Hey, Yu/you!"

In Japanese, it is pronounced [jɯ̂ː], or more accurately something like [jíɯ̀] (pitch accent on the first mora, making it sound like HL). The Japanese "high back vowel" is usually realized as something like [ɯ], the close back unrounded vowel in IPA terms. (But it's quite centralized and produced with compressed lip rounding. So it actually sounds somewhat different from the canonical IPA [ɯ]). It becomes fronted when it is adjacent to a coronal or palatal sound. So the quality of the first half of the vowel in my name is close to [i].

My last name, Tanaka, is one of the most common Japanese surnames, which is pronounced something like [t̪àn̪ák̠á] in Japanese. (The two coronals are usually dental and the /k/ can be pretty back, sometimes even sounding like the uvular [q], at least in my dialect. The word is unaccented, making the tonal pattern LHH, although H isn't that high.) It should be something like [tʰəˈnɑkə] in North American English.

In summary,

  • In Japanese: [t̪àn̪ák̠á jíɯ̀], [t̪àn̪ák̠á jɯ̂ː], etc.
  • In English: [ˈju tʰəˈnɑkə], [ˈjʉ tʰəˈnɑkə], etc.

I am happy with any one of them.

Language and educational background

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Nagoya, Japan. I also lived in Tokyo for about eight years. I speak Nagoya Japanese (native) and Tokyo Japanese (native or near-native).

Besides Japanese, I speak English (fluent), French (fluent or near-fluent), Spanish (early intermediate), Indonesian (beginning; meaning pretty bad) and Korean (beginning; meaning pretty bad).

I'm a member of the UCLA Phonetics Lab. Before UCLA, I was at Sophia University, where I was a member of the Sophia University Phonetics Laboratory.


I love traveling overseas ("overseas" from the Japanese point of view, i.e. any foreign countries/regions/cities).

So far, I've been to Cambodia (Siem Reap/Angkor Wat), Canada (Toronto, the Niagara Falls, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, etc.), China (Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an), France (Paris, Versailles, Dieppe, Tours, Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Lyon, Annecy, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Cannes, Nice, Arles, Avignon, Nimes, Montpellier, Carcassonne, Toulouse, Albi, Bordeaux, Bayonne, Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, etc. -- Oui, un peu partout!), Indonesia (Jakarta and Bogor), Italy (Turin, Milan, Venice, Padua, Florence, Pisa, Rome and Naples), Malaysia (Goerge Town/Penang and Kuala Lumpur), Monaco, Morocco (Tangier, Rabat, Cassablanca, Essaouira, Marrakesh, Ouarzazate, the Sahara Desert and Fes/Fez), Norway (Oslo and Tromsø), Portugal (Lisbon, Porto and Coimbra), Singapore, South Korea (Seoul and Busan), Spain (Barcelona, Tarragona, Pamplona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Madrid, Burgos, Leon, A Coruna/Corunna, Santiago de Compostela, Seville, Cordova, Granada, Malaga, etc.), Switzerland (Geneva, Lausanne, Lucerne, Zurich, Berne, etc.), Taiwan (Taipei and Jiufen), Thailand (mainly Bangkok and Ayutthaya), the UK (London and Gibraltar), the U.S. (New York City, Boston, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Hawai'i, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc.), Vatican City State, and Viet-Nam (Ha Noi, Ha Long Bay and Ho Chi Minh City) (countries listed in alphabetical order).

I'd always like to go to new places and I'd always like to go back to any of the places I've been to. My dream place to visit is... Hong Kong! (I know it's not hard to go to but I save my favorite food for last!)

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