Seiichi Makino

Seiichi Makino was born in Tokyo in 1935. During the war years, he spent part of his childhood on the island of Shikoku in the Inland Sea. He received much of his early academic training at two of the finest universities in Japan. He started his undergraduate training in Waseda University, Tokyo, in 1954, earning his B.A. (1958) and an M.A. (1960). He then moved into the field of linguistics at Tokyo University, where he gained a second B.A. (1962) and M.A. (1964). He was accepted into the prestigious Ph.D. program at Tokyo University in 1964, but later that year came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholarship grantee and began Ph.D. research in the Department of Linguistics at Indiana University, and then at the University of Illinois, where he earned his Ph.D. in linguistics in 1968.

While researching and writing his dissertation, Seiichi worked as a teaching assistant, instructor and assistant professor of Japanese and linguistics at the University of Illinois. In 1971, he was promoted to associate professor, and in 1984 to professor of Japanese and linguistics. From 1988-89, he was a visiting professor of Japanese in the Department of East Asian Studies at Harvard University. In 1991, he moved to Princeton as a professor in the Department of East Asian Studies.

Seiichi has distinguished himself as the energetic and creative director of Princeton’s Japanese language program over the past 20 years. Working with an enthusiastic staff, whose respect he has enjoyed, he has made the program into one of the premier ones outside of Japan.

Seiichi has personally taught all levels of Japanese language, from first through fifth year, as well as classes on cultural and cognitive linguistics and discourse analysis. He has also offered classes on Japanese culture and Japanese as a second language. He has established his leadership in the field of Japanese language pedagogy internationally, as well as in the United States. In addition to his leadership and service on campus, from 1999 to 2012 he also served as the director of Princeton-in-Ishikawa, the summer language program in Japan.

Seiichi has been extremely active in developing and supporting Japanese language programs in sister universities and in training less experienced teachers of Japanese. After several years of teaching in the Summer School Program for Japanese at Middlebury College, he served as the director of the Japanese School from 1978-88. We should add that Benjamin Elman, the current chair of the East Asian studies department, was one of Seiichi’s first-year students in the summer of 1975 at Middlebury. During his leadership, the Middlebury Japanese language program expanded from 64 enrolled students in 1978 to 105 in 1988, with an increased curriculum covering four levels of Japanese instruction.

Seiichi has conducted workshops on various aspects of Japanese linguistics and language training across the United States and in Japan. In the summers of 1989 and 1990, for example, he served as director of the Workshop for Teachers of Japanese at Middlebury College. In the summers of 1990-93, he was the director of a Workshop for Teachers of Japanese at the Hokkaido International Foundation in Japan. He has also maintained a close relationship with the Columbia University Japanese language program, directing their Summer Institute for Japanese Pedagogy from 1991 to the present.

Seiichi is a prolific researcher and author in the broad field of Japanese language and linguistics. He has published many books and articles in English and Japanese, including: “Some Aspects of Japanese Nominalizations” [Tokyo, Tôkai University Press, 1969]; “Kôtoba to Kuukan” (Language and Space) [Tokyo, Tôkai University Press, 1978]; “A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar” (with W. Tsutsui) [Tokyo, Japan Times, 1986]; “A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar” (with W. Tsutsui) [Tokyo, Japan Times, 1995]; “A Dictionary of Advanced Japanese Grammar” (with W. Tsutsui) [Tokyo, Japan Times, 2008]; “Aspects of Linguistics” (with Susumu Kuno and Susan Strauss) [Tokyo, Kurosio Shuppan, 2007]; and “A Dictionary of Japanese and English Metaphors” (with Mayumi Oka) [Tokyo, Kurosio Shuppan, 2007]. He is also the joint author of “Nakama,” a two-volume introductory guide to spoken and written Japanese emphasizing practical communication and student interaction.

Seiichi has been a constant contributor to his beloved areas of interest: Japanese language teaching and linguistics. Since 1972, he has been an associate editor for Papers in Japanese Linguistics; from 1977 to 1985 he was an associate editor of Studies in Language Learning, published by the University of Illinois. He has served on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Association of Teachers of Japanese since 2000 and was appointed president from 2003-05. He has frequently been asked to review Japanese language programs in the United States, Japan and China.

Seiichi’s contributions to the field of Japanese language teaching have been widely recognized throughout his career. In 1989, he was honored with a Distinguished Teacher’s Award by Harvard University. In 2001, he was recognized for his Distinguished Service to his Profession by the Modern Language Association. In 2007, he was honored by the Society of Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language. And for his 70th birthday in 2005, his colleagues in the profession contributed to a festschrift in his honor: “An Invitation to Second Language Acquisition Research in Japanese: In Honor of Seiichi Makino” (ed. Yukiko Hatasa) [Tokyo, Kurosio, 2003].

We should also mention that Yasuko Makino, Seiichi’s wife, who will also be retiring this year, has been for many years a most competent and caring librarian of Japanese collections in the Gest East Asian Library.

Seiichi Makino is a person of boundless energy and enthusiasm, is active and organized, and is an example to all of his colleagues and students. He loves to swim and routinely goes to the pool early in the mornings, then to his office in Jones Hall, where his door is usually open until late in the evening, most days of the week. Faculty, students and visitors have only to tap on the door and Seiichi will welcome them, asking how he can help.

Annual Emeriti Booklet Excerpt: