Lal Zimman (FAQ)
[lɑɫ ˈzimn̩]

Assistant Professor
Department of Linguistics
South Hall 3518
University of California, Santa Barbara
Lal Zimman

I am currently engaged in several projects either at UCSB or in collaboration with colleagues from my previous institutions. I welcome inquiries about these projects and other topics related to language and trans/LGBQ communities, including those from prospective students.

1. Major review of trans people's linguistic practices
Recently, I have been amassing a bibliography of research on the linguistic practices of trans* people, broadly construed. This process has been to inform my review of trans people in sociolinguistics (see my publications page). One product from this project so far has been a Bibliography of Research on Trans* People & Language. I welcome additions to this list.

2. Building & archiving a body of interviews with trans people
Since 2007, I have been conducting interviews with trans people in several urban areas in the western United States including Denver, San Francisco, and Portland. So far this amounts to approximately 100 interviews, and I am continuing to add to this body of data with a particular focus on diversifying the sample with respect to race, age, and gender identity. In the coming years, I plan to create a public online archive for sharing recordings of trans voices and other materials from interviewees who provide consent.

3. Real time change in the voices of trans people on testosterone
My dissertation fieldwork involved following a group of 15 trans men and other female-assigned trans people making use of testosterone to masculinize their appearance and voices. I am currently in the process of writing up the results from that analysis, particularly with respect to change in vocal pitch. This work documents the degree of change in transmasculine speakers' pitch in read speech as well as variation in the amount and/or rate of change across speakers. The results confirm that testosterone causes significant changes in pitch, but they also suggest that biological processes work in concert with social forces. My publications page also lists several publications based on my dissertation, including "Transmasculinity and the voice", "Agency and the gendered voice" and "Gender as stylistic bricolage".

4. Body part terminology and trans embodiment
One of the discourse-focused arms of my research concerns the the construction of biological sex through the use of gendered body part terminology. In my chapter in Queer Excursions, I focus on genital terminology used by and in reference to trans masculine embodiment and the social work that accomplished by trans speakers' use of both innovative and normative lexical items. I also co-authored an article with Elijah Edelman in a speical issue of the Journal of Homosexuality on trans sexualities, in which we situated these discourses within the notion of sexual productivity as it operates within homonormative sexual economies. The theoretical perspectives developed in this work informs my sociophonetic research in important ways, and I am currently building a larger corpus of data in order to consider changes in lexical preferences over time as a means of tracking changes in trans activists' linguistic politics.

5. Gender & voice quality
I am also working in collaboration with two of my colleagues at Reed College, Kara Becker and Sameer ud Dowla Khan, on an analysis of creak in the speech of young people with a variety of gender identities. The study is designed to explore both acoustic and articulatory measures and to test hypotheses about the distribution of creak across certain gender groups, including not only normatively gendered women, but also an array of transgender and gender non-conforming speakers. You can see us present on this work at NWAV 2015 in Toronto. Another area in which I'm considering the sociolinguistics of creaky voice quality is in my theoretically-focused analyses of the gendered meanings of creak. Using discourse analytic tools like the notion of affective stance, my analysis explores the iconic potentiality of creak granted by its low air-flow, low amplitude, and low/restricted fundamental frequency. Together, these characteristics allow creak to index a stance of disaffectation, an aloof persona, or a kind of emotional stoicism. I'll be presenting this work in a separate, solo-authored paper at NWAV 2015.

6. Experiments on the perception of gender
I am in the early stages of a set of experiments designed to identify acoustic factors that influence the categorization of speakers as female or male on the basis of their voices. This is determined by using digitally manipulated speech and listener subjects who rated speakers whose voices had been digitally manipulated to have a range of different values for average pitch. Pitch (or fundamental frequency) is clearly an important marker, but a pilot experiment using manipulated versions of the same speakers revealed that the "cross-over point" at which speakers began to be heard as male rather than female had to be lower for speakers whose voices were more typically feminine in other ways (specifically, with higher formant frequencies and higher frequency productions of /s/).