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Masako Fidler

Professor of Slavic Languages:
Slavic Languages
Phone: +1 401 863 3933
Phone 2: +1 401 863 2689

Professor Fidler's areas of expertise include comparative linguistics (especially dealing with Czech, Russian and Japanese), discourse analysis, and cognitive linguistics.


I was born in Tokyo, Japan. My parents are both professors of linguistics and English. Their specialization does not sound very unusual in the current political climate, but it was quite an accomplishment when they were young. Both of them studied English at the time when the language had been completely wiped out from the school curriculum during the Second World War. My mother was told that she would never get married by her relatives because she, a woman, wanted to go to college.

My grandfather, Masashi Ueda, is one of the founders of the first Japanese orchestra. He gave premier performances of works by Russian and Soviet composers. His study was full of orchestral scores with signatures of famous Russian and international performers with whom he performed. But he didn't grow up in a supportive environment either. He grew up as an orphan in a remote Hokkaido village where the only musical instrument he was exposed to was a primitive school organ, the kind that plays by pumping air with two pedals. He had no formal music education in childhood, but when he came to Tokyo in his teens to study electronics, he could not give up his dream. He studied piano, voice, bassoon, and orchestral conducting. I imagine it wasn't easy starting music education late and having to support himself. I hear he even worked as a pianist on an ocean liner at some point. Grandfather's family suffered a great deal during the Second World War; music was not considered a patriotic occupation. Grandfather also failed the physical examination to join the army because of bad eyesight. The whole family was therefore subject to name-calling "hikoku-min," being repeatedly called that they were not "genuine" citizens.

It is perhaps thanks to this family trait that I became a rare species in Slavic studies in the American context that is primarily populated by American nationals and native speakers of Slavic languages. Our family members all like to do things that are different and perhaps unusual. I hope that my existence in the field will help inspire more people of different backgrounds to become interested in Slavic cultures and to enrich the field with their unique contributions and perspectives.

At home, because of the non-standard configuration of family members we speak Czech, English, and Japanese.


Masako Fidler studies discourse analysis and cognitive linguistics with an emphasis on Czech, Japanese, and Russian. She is particularly interested in the connection between sound and meaning in language and how this relationship interacts with grammar. Her monograph on Czech sound symbolism is under contract with the Slavica Publishers.

Fidler has expanded her research interest to text analysis of Czech political texts using a recently developed statistical application at the Institute of the Czech National Corpus at Charles University in Prague. The study attempts to reproduce, among other things, different readings of socialist propaganda texts by pre-1989 and post-1989 readers. This is a collaborative research with Václav Cvrček at the Institute of the Czech National Corpus at Charles University in Prague.


BA in Russian Literature (1983, Waseda U., Japan). MA in Slavic Linguistics (1985, UCLA), PhD in Slavic Linguistics (1991, UCLA)


1984-86: Sokol Fellowship in Slavic Languages and Literatures,

1987-88: Phi Beta Kappa Alumni Award, University of California at Los Angeles

1996-98: Elected President of the North American Association of Teachers of Czech

2004: National Award for Best Teaching on the Post-Secondary
Level, National Award from the American Association of Teachers of Slavicand East European Languages


American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages
American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies
International Association of Teachers of Czech
International Cognitive Linguistics Association
Slavic Cognitive Linguistics Association
Linguistic Society of America


Czech language, culture and literature, Slavic linguistics, Discourse-cognitive linguistics, Comparative Analysis of Czech and Russian

Funded Research

Current grants
Brown Humanities Research Fund (2013-15) $1,600

Completed grants

Faculty sponsor for undergraduate research and teaching assistants through the Brown UTRA program (1995-96, 96-97, 97-98, 98-99, 1999-2000, 2000-2001, 01-02, 02-03, 04-05, 05-06)

1992: Faculty Research Travel Grant from the Watson Institute
for International Studies, Brown University for research in Prague,
Czechoslovakia: $ 2,000

1993: American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) East European Advanced Language Training Grant: $ 2,000

September 1994 - January 1995: International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) Grant for Advanced Research in Central and East
Europe project on discourse functions of Czech conditionals, (principal investigator): $17,000

1996: Brown Faculty Research Travel Grant from the Watson Institute for International Studies, Brown University, to fund research in the comparative study of Czech and Russian hybrid conditionals

1998-1999, 1999-2000: Cultural grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic for the North American Association of Teachers of Czech: $ 2,500 and $2,000

1999-2000: A Campus-based Grant from the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning for a project in adding sound to the existing web-based Czech anthology. (principal investigator), $ 3,000.

2000-1: Brown Francis Wayland Collegium Grant for expanding the Brown On-line Czech Anthology (principal investigator), $ 2,000

2000-1: Brown Wriston Curricular Development Grant to develop materials for Czech language courses including the development of the Brown On-line Czech Anthology (PI), $ 2,000

2000-1 A Consortium Grant from the Consortium for Language Teaching and Learning for expansion and elaboration of the web-based Czech Anthology (18-months, co-PI, 16 months), $ 14,730 and additional funding of $2,715

2003-4: Brown University Lectureship Funds to invite 6 prominent scholars specializing in Central European cultures and literatures (main organizer and drafter of proposal, co-proposed with A. Levitsky), Brown University, $ 5,200

2003-5: Richard B. Salomon Grant, Brown University, to support the research project on Czech sound symbolism, (principal investigator),
$ 3,700

2004-5: Brown University Lectureship Funds to invite three scholars on Czech culture and literature, $ 1,600

Brown Humanities research fund, (2003 $1,200, 2004 $1,400, 2005 $1,700)

Web Links

Curriculum Vitae

Download Masako Fidler's Curriculum Vitae in PDF Format