Presentation Title

You just got transgendered!’: Lexical change and language ideologies in discourse about identity labels for trans, cis and non-binary people

Presenter Name

Lal Zimman
Will Hayworth

Presenter Title/Affiliation

U. of California, Santa Barbara; Google

Start Date

21-5-2021 11:00 AM

Event Name

Panel discussion

Panel Number

2

Panel Chair Name

Robert Phillips

Zoom URL to Join

https://ciis.zoom.us/j/96623891761

Zoom Meeting ID

966 2389 1761

Abstract

The analysis of identity terminology has been a central part of queer linguistics from its inception, focusing variably on homophobic slurs (e.g., Armstrong 1997), the reclamation of such epithets (e.g., Chen 1998), and the agency to choose one’s own identity labels (e.g., Zimman 2017), among other topics. However, the fact that the lexicon remains “above the level of awareness” (Silverstein 1981) has made it a less attractive domain for quantitative sociolinguists, who tend to prioritize the analysis of not-fully-conscious linguistic practices at the level of phonetics, phonology, morphology, or syntax. However, quantitative, computational, and corpus methods can be useful for identifying patterns of lexical change that might not be apparent from qualitative analysis alone (e.g. Baker 2010). At the same time, the politically charged nature of identity labels makes a purely quantitative analysis untenable, leaving us with little sense of why changes are taking place. This talk takes a mixed-methods approach to lexical change in terms for trans, cis, and non-binary people in three online communities hosted by LiveJournal.com that were popular in the 2000s (one for trans women, another for trans men, and a third for genderqueer people). First, we present quantitative findings regarding change over time in the most popular terms for trans, cis, and non-binary people. Next, we delve into the metalinguistic analyses produced by members of this community, focusing on 1) the problematization of transgendered and shift away from this form in favor of transgender or trans, 2) the introduction of cisgender and its alternatives, and 3) the emergence of non-binary as an umbrella label. In each case, we consider the language ideologies invoked by speakers to explain and justify their stance to these changes. We note that speakers employ a variety of strategies, including appeals to Standard Language Ideology (Lippi-Green 2012) and the citation of linguistic authorities. However, we also highlight instances of speakers resisting these ideological frames and instead promoting a harm-based model of linguistic oppression in which outcomes, rather than power-laden judgements of linguistic “validity,” shape the path of linguistic activism.

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
May 21st, 11:00 AM May 21st, 11:30 AM

You just got transgendered!’: Lexical change and language ideologies in discourse about identity labels for trans, cis and non-binary people

The analysis of identity terminology has been a central part of queer linguistics from its inception, focusing variably on homophobic slurs (e.g., Armstrong 1997), the reclamation of such epithets (e.g., Chen 1998), and the agency to choose one’s own identity labels (e.g., Zimman 2017), among other topics. However, the fact that the lexicon remains “above the level of awareness” (Silverstein 1981) has made it a less attractive domain for quantitative sociolinguists, who tend to prioritize the analysis of not-fully-conscious linguistic practices at the level of phonetics, phonology, morphology, or syntax. However, quantitative, computational, and corpus methods can be useful for identifying patterns of lexical change that might not be apparent from qualitative analysis alone (e.g. Baker 2010). At the same time, the politically charged nature of identity labels makes a purely quantitative analysis untenable, leaving us with little sense of why changes are taking place. This talk takes a mixed-methods approach to lexical change in terms for trans, cis, and non-binary people in three online communities hosted by LiveJournal.com that were popular in the 2000s (one for trans women, another for trans men, and a third for genderqueer people). First, we present quantitative findings regarding change over time in the most popular terms for trans, cis, and non-binary people. Next, we delve into the metalinguistic analyses produced by members of this community, focusing on 1) the problematization of transgendered and shift away from this form in favor of transgender or trans, 2) the introduction of cisgender and its alternatives, and 3) the emergence of non-binary as an umbrella label. In each case, we consider the language ideologies invoked by speakers to explain and justify their stance to these changes. We note that speakers employ a variety of strategies, including appeals to Standard Language Ideology (Lippi-Green 2012) and the citation of linguistic authorities. However, we also highlight instances of speakers resisting these ideological frames and instead promoting a harm-based model of linguistic oppression in which outcomes, rather than power-laden judgements of linguistic “validity,” shape the path of linguistic activism.

https://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/lavlang/2021/friday/15