Lal Zimman (FAQ)
[lɑɫ ˈzimn̩]
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Assistant Professor
Department of Linguistics
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' 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 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 identity and embodiment, which highlights the culturally contingent process of assigning a sex to particular kinds of bodies and a gender to particular kinds of persons. The second arm of my work uses this perspective on embodiment and selfhood 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 language and 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 September, 2016).


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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, and a few others.

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'.