|Lal Zimman (FAQ)
Department of Linguistics
South Hall 3518
University of California, Santa Barbara
|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' 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,
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
My research pursuits are situated in the interdisciplinary
field of sociocultural
linguistics and deal broadly with the relationship
between language, gender, and embodiment in transgender and
queer communities. I approach this research from two
directions, each of which is focused on the linguistic
practices of transgender speakers. The first concerns the
discursive construction of biological sex, which highlights
the culturally contingent process of assigning a sex to
particular kinds of bodies. The second arm of my work uses
this 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. Check out my research
page for more about my current projects.
Download my CV as a PDF (last
updated July, 2017).
- After a bit of a hiatus, I've been blogging on Trans
Talk. You can follow me on Medium
or follow the
page on Facebook to be notified about new posts.
- I wrote a
post for Gender & Society's blog, "Two legal
sexes aren't enough: Why governments should recognize
non-binary bodies and identities."
- I was quoted in an article by Mark Peters at the
Boston Globe, Womyn,
wimmin, and other folx, on the power of x as a
replacement for other orthographic symbols.
- I recently began blogging on Medium,
where much of my writing concerns trans issues and their
connections to language.
- With co-author Kira Hall, I completed an
bibliography of research on language gender and
sexuality featured in Oxford's
- My blog post for the OUP was selected for inclusion in
OUPblog Tenth Anniversary Book: Ten Years of Academic
Insights for the Thinking World, which is
available as an eBook in various formats, including PDF
- I wrote a blog post for Oxford University Press on Facebook's
adoption of a less normative approach to gender
identity and pronouns, and what that move reflects
about the future of gendered pronoun practices.
- Check out Christen McCurdy's piece for the Pacific
Gender-Neutral Pronouns Actually Doomed?"
Daily picked up on my paper at the 2012 Meeting of the
Linguistic Society of America on the significance
of gender markers other than pitch on the categorization
of gender based on read speech. (NB: The
Atlantic also mentioned the study, though the
context and conclusions are out of step with what the
study actually shows.)
- Check back later for more!
Frequently Asked Questions
about my name:
How do you pronounce Lal?
Phonemically, my pronunciation of Lal is just like it's
spelled: /lal/, though other [+back] [+low] 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 Paul or fall.
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 the latter
meaning is not what 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,
What about your last name?
Much less interesting, but sometimes exotified in
pronunciation (presumably because of my first name). It's
like Zimmerman without the 'er'.