Lal Zimman (FAQ)
[lɑɫ ˈzimn̩]

zimman at linguistics dot ucsb dot edu

Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Affiliated Faculty in Feminist Studies
South Hall 3518
University of California, Santa Barbara
Lal Zimman

Hello! I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Barbara. I'm also General Editor of Oxford University Press's Studies in Language, Gender, and Sexuality Series. I received my PhD in Linguistics at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2012, where I was affiliated with the programs in Culture, Language and Social Practice (CLASP) and Women's and Gender Studies. Since then, I have also worked in the Linguistics Departments at Reed College and Stanford University.

My research pursuits are situated in the interdisciplinary field of sociocultural linguistics and are focused around two areas: 1) language, gender, and sexuality, and 2) sociophonetics and (increasingly) its interface with discourse. I also have a community-driven research agenda that focuses on the relationship between language, identity, and embodiment in transgender (and queer) communities. I approach this research from several directions. One concerns the discursive construction of biological sex, which highlights the culturally contingent process of assigning a sex to particular kinds of bodies. Another arm of my work uses this socially-grounded perspective on embodiment to explore the gendered characteristics of the voice, which are often assumed to arise from speakers' position in a biologically-determined sex binary. My research on trans voices aims to explore the complex and mutually reinforcing relationship between social subjectivity in ways that account for a fuller range of gendered identities while also illuminating our understanding of more normative gender. Most recently, I have been working on challenges that arise in the study of gender and the voice, particularly with respect to the role of discourse stance in driving the use of vocal pitch and voice quality.

Check out my research page for more about my current projects.

Download my CV as a PDF (last updated July, 2018).


My most recent publications:

Upcoming events:
  • October 11-13, 2018: I will be an invited speaker at ETAP4 (Experimental and Theoretical Advances in Prosody) at UMass Amherst. My talk is entitled "Gender, pitch, and voice quality through the lens of transgender speakers."
  • October 18-21, 2018: I'll be presenting two talks at NWAV 47 at NYU later this year (scheduling info to come):
    • "Disambiguating and denaturalizing the voice in sociolinguistics and on Catfish: Toward better theory and practice surrounding the phonetics of sex and gender"
    • With Will Hayworth, "Lexical change as sociopolitical change in talk about transgender bodies: New methods for the corpus analysis of internet data"
  • November 14-18, 2018: 2018 AAAs in San Jose, CA:
    • Thurs, 11/15 @ 3:15pm: I will give a talk entitled "Modeling social and discursive variables in the face of ethnographic accountability" on Jeremy Calder & Qing Zhang's panel, "Expanding Theoretical and Methodological Horizons: Bridging Variationist Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology."
    • Fri, 11/16 @ 8:00-9:45am: I am also co-organizing a panel with Mary Bucholtz, "Interrogating Injustice in the Discipline and the Academy."
    • Sat, 11/17 @ 12:15-1:45pm: Finally I will participate in the Society for Linguistic Anthropology's Presidential Conversation, "Language and Social Justice in Practice."
  • January, 2019: I will give the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture at the University of Michigan.
Other news & press clippings:

(old news...)


Frequently Asked Questions about my name:
How do you pronounce Lal?
Phonemically, my pronunciation of Lal is more or less as it's spelled: /lɑl/ though other backish/lowish vowels are also fine to my ear. No front vowels, please. In less technical terms, it shouldn't rhyme with Hal or pal - it should sound more like hall or Paul.

Is that short for anything?
Nope, that's it.

So what kind of name is Lal?
It comes from Sanskrit and can be glossed as 'to play / to caress'. It also means 'red' in Hindi, though Sanskrit is the language my parents – hippies, if there was any doubt  – had in mind when naming me. Other, perhaps better known, Lals include the second Prime Minister to India (Lal Bahadur), Data's android daughter in a memorable episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (she got to pick her own gender!), and a few others.

What about your last name?
Much less interesting, but sometimes exotified in pronunciation. It's just like Zimmerman without the 'er'.