|Lal Zimman (FAQ)
zimman at linguistics dot ucsb dot edu
Assistant Professor of Linguistics
Affiliated Faculty in Feminist Studies
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'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,
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 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).
- 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
- "Disambiguating and denaturalizing the voice in
sociolinguistics and on Catfish: Toward better theory
and practice surrounding the phonetics of sex and
- With Will Hayworth, "Lexical change as
sociopolitical change in talk about transgender
bodies: New methods for the corpus analysis of
- November 14-18, 2018: At the 2018
AAAs in San Jose, CA, I'll be giving a paper and
have also co-organized a panel with Mary Bucholtz
(scheduling info to come):
- "Modeling social and discursive variables in the
face of ethnographic accountability"
- Organizer of panel, "Interrogating Injustice in the
Discipline and the Academy"
- January, 2019: I will give the Martin
Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture at the University of
- Summer 2018: I have a new,
accessible overview of research on trans people's voices
in Language & Linguistics Compass entitled, "Transgender
voices: Insights on identity, embodiment, and the
gender of the voice."
- Spring 2018: I was interviewed by
Rachel Answorth for a piece about the use of girl
among gay men, "Call
me by my pronouns: Why gay men call each other 'girl'"
- Spring 2018: Patrick Cox for PRI's
World of Words Podcast spoke to me about the use of x
in trans contexts for his piece, "Why
we are so drawn to the letter 'X'"
- 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
about my name:
How do you pronounce Lal?
Phonemically, my pronunciation of Lal is just like 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
Bahadur), Data's android daughter in a
memorable episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation
(she got to pick her own gender!), and a
What about your last name?
Much less interesting, but sometimes exotified in
pronunciation, presumably because of my first name. It's
just like Zimmerman without the 'er'.