CV


EDUCATION

Ph.D., Hispanic Languages and Literatures (Linguistics Track)

Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California, Berkeley

Designated Emphasis in Gender and Women's Studies

2019—

M.A., Hispanic Languages and Literatures

Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California, Berkeley

Thesis: "Where Does Gender Exist in Gendered Languages? Gender-Inclusivity and the Transformation of Spanish Grammar"

Faculty Advisors: Dr. Justin Davidson, Dr. Isaac Bleaman

2019—2021

B.A., Linguistics

University of California, Berkeley

Distinction in General Scholarship

2014—2018

B.A., Spanish (Hispanic Languages, Linguistics, and Bilingualism)

University of California, Berkeley

Highest Honors

Thesis: "Morphological Gender Innovations in Spanish of Genderqueer Speakers/Innovaciones al género morfológico en el español de hablantes genderqueer"

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Justin Davidson

2014—2018


PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS

Papadopoulos, B. (2022). A brief history of gender-inclusive Spanish/Una breve historia del español no binario. Deportate, esuli, profughe, 48(1), 31-48.


OTHER PUBLICATIONS

"The Work of the Gender in Language Project," Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies, June 2022.

https://clas.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/publications/brlas2022-papadopolous.pdf

"Gender-Inclusive Language Around the World," Linguistic Society of America, June 2022.

https://www.linguisticsociety.org/content/gender-inclusive-language-around-world


PROJECTS

The Gender in Language Project is a freely-accessible, multilingual community and academic resource which compiles all known crosslinguistic gender-inclusive forms (e.g. elle 'they [sg.]' in Spanish, X也 'they [sg.]' in Mandarin Chinese) and describes the use and context of these forms to queer and nonbinary community members, educators, students, and researchers.

2021


ORGANIZED SESSIONS

Introducing the Gender in Language Project

28th Lavender Languages and Linguistics Conference

Organizer: Ben Papadopoulos

Participants: Ben Papadopoulos, Jennifer Kaplan, Cooper Bedin, Carmela Blazado, Sol Cintrón, Julie Ha, Sebastian Clendenning-Jimenez, Keira Colleluori, Jesus Duarte, Zaphiel Kiriko Miller, Serah Sim, Chelsea Tang [all UCB], Irene Yi [Yale University]

Session Abstract: How social gender categories become grammaticalized in language is not well analyzed. The only literature in linguistics which directly addresses this phenomenon is the theory of morphological gender, which defines languages whose grammars are structured in a certain way as “having gender,” and all others as being “genderless” (Corbett, 1991) This theory only weakly describes the interconnection of biological sex, social gender, and morphological gender, and it ignores the many gendered features of language that transcend this definition. Queer, trans, nonbinary, and other gender-nonconforming speakers of typologically distinct languages, who are currently absent from this theory, instead help us analyze the grammar and lexicon from the perspective of social gender, identifying normatively male-specific and female-specific features of language and innovating solutions meant to provide neutral and/or specifically nonbinary forms of gender self-expression. In this panel, we publicly present the Gender in Language Project (genderinlanguage.com), an open-source website and community resource meant to describe the realization of (social) gender in different languages, including any neutral and/or gender-inclusive forms attested in those languages. In particular, we describe our findings from the eleven languages (including many considered “genderless”) the project launches with in order to analyze the ways that these languages both conform to and challenge the current definition of gender in language. The many features of gender that we’ve identified in these languages alone (e.g. lexicosemantic, morphophonological, etc.) are not unified by the current theory, and even languages currently defined as “having gender” contest this literature in crucial ways. We argue that a new definition of gender in language be constructed—one that separates the concept of “nominal classification” (which currently restricts definitions of gender in language as purely morphological), from the widespread features of gender in language that transcend this definition, allowing us to solidify the relationship between social and linguistic gender empirically and intervene in situations of social and structural discrimination against gender-nonconforming speakers.


Date: May 23-25, 2022

Language: English

Location: University of Catania, Italy

2022

Introducing the Gender in Language Project

Ben Papadopoulos & Jennifer Kaplan

Abstract: For a language to be identified as “having gender” linguistically, it must fulfill three criteria: 1) it must have system-wide nominal classes and all of the language’s nouns must be assigned to one of these classes, 2) the gender value of the noun must trigger patterns of morphosyntactic agreement on dependent elements, and 3) there must be a basis to the gender assignments, whether formal, semantic, or both in combination (Dixon, 1982; Corbett, 1991; Kramer, 2015). Languages that violate any of these three criteria (including some that have gender morphology) are not considered to have the feature of gender, and because the systems of nominal classification this theory describes are more often called “gender,” non-qualifying languages are subsequently identified as “genderless.” However, this canonical labelling of languages as linguistically “gendered” or “genderless” crucially cannot account for the ways in which linguistic gender at any level is correlated with social gender, even in so-called “genderless” languages. Queer, trans, nonbinary, and other gender-nonconforming speakers of different languages have identified features that they believe to mark normative masculine and feminine (social) gender and proposed innovations meant to be inclusive of people of other genders. In doing so, they point out the main reason our definition of “linguistic gender” should change: it has material consequences.

These consequences manifest chiefly in structural discrimination, which produces psychological and bodily harm. At the institutional level, language academies, such as the Real Academia Española have taken reactionary stances against gender-inclusive language that discourage the widespread use of gender-confirming language in society. While rejecting gender-inclusive language, these bodies indirectly cite linguistic theories of gender which state that the feature is arbitrary (e.g. Ibrahim, 1973). Most saliently, the Académie Française’s characterization of inclusive French as putting the French language in ‘péril mortel’ (AF, 2017) has emboldened homophobic and transphobic rhetoric in the French press, whereby ‘inclusive writing’ and related terms (e.g. ‘novlangue’) become far-right dog-whistles against progressive causes in general. On the individual level, where linguistic marking of speakers as normatively masculine or feminine is obligatory, trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconfirming individuals are repeatedly misgendered, which not only has profoundly negative psychological impacts (Langer, 2011) but can also prevent individuals from accessing healthcare (Namaste, 2000), and can cause other bodily harm. Thus, canonical definitions of linguistic gender do not correlate with the lived experiences of speakers of those languages, which (socially) gender referents in other salient ways.

By contrast, the Gender in Language Project proposes an alternative model for defining linguistic gender which begins from the perspective of social gender. We argue that a new definition focused on the multivariate ways that social gender categories may become encoded in language not only resolves differential understandings of the concepts of social and grammatical gender, but it also empirically strengthens the connection between them, and allows for a theory which corroborates the lived experiences of queer, trans, nonbinary, and other gender-nonconforming people globally with language.

Gender in "Genderless" Languages

Cooper Bedin, Carmela Blazado, Sol Cintrón & Julie Ha

Abstract: The realization of social gender distinctions in the grammar and lexicon of different languages is described in the theory of morphological gender (Kramer, 2015), which defines languages whose grammars are structured in a particular way as “having gender,” and all others as being “genderless.” Because they do not fulfill each of the three criteria outlined in this theory, many languages like English, Vietnamese, and Tagalog are considered genderless linguistically even though they mark masculine and feminine gender in different ways, including morphologically. This paper presents a typological analysis of the aforementioned languages and details the multivariate features of gender they exhibit in order to problematize the notion that they are “genderless.”

While English is a famously “genderless” language, it features pronominal, lexical, and even traces of morphological gender. Queer speakers have innovated neutral and/or specifically nonbinary personal pronouns; the extant gender-neutral pronoun they has gained widespread popularity and numerous series of neopronouns (third-person singular pronouns other than he, she, or they), including ze/hir and xe/xem (Bertulfo, 2021) have been attested to provide more expansive ways to self-identify. Many English words exist as gender-paired lexical items by way of semantics, and many of these pairs lack neutral alternatives (e.g. nephew, niece). Lastly, English features feminizing suffixes (-ette, -ess, -ix) that gender-mark words in a manifestly morphological way (e.g. bachelorette, actress; Baron, 1986).

Vietnamese is similarly considered a genderless language, yet it forms gendered distinctions in novel ways, including via processes of compounding involving normatively gendered adjectives (e.g. trai ‘boy’, gái ‘girl’) and otherwise gender-neutral nouns (e.g. con ‘child/dear one’), which compound in ways that disallow neutral alternatives prescriptively (e.g. con trai ‘son’, con gái ‘daughter’; Ngo, 2020). These adjectives double gender-mark certain gender marked roots (e.g. ông nội ‘paternal grandfather’, bà nội ‘paternal grandmother’).

Finally, Tagalog presents the most egregious example. As a result of Spanish colonialism, hundreds of loanwords (nouns and adjectives) bear masculine-feminine morphological gender that parallels Spanish; the loanword’s gender aligns with the referent’s gender and is inflected using canonical Spanish gender morphology (e.g. abenturero/abenturera ‘adventurer’, santo/santa ‘holy’), even when paired with native nouns (OEI, 1972). Queer speakers have improved on some of these items using gender-inclusive Spanish strategies (e.g. pilipinx), further proving their similarities (FIERCE, 2018). The discovery of a morphological gender system in a subset of the grammar and lexicon challenges the ability of the prevailing theory of morphological gender to identify all gender morphology cross-linguistically.

The information we lose in enforcing the label “genderless” is many-fold: it trivializes the diverse features of gender-marking present in English, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and other languages, and disregards important historical changes to gender systems brought about by language contact as well as contemporaneous innovations in language occurring in queer communities. We argue the necessity of a more expansive definition of gender in language which unifies features that are disjointed in the current theory, in turn positioning the focus of the study of gender in language on social gender.

Gender in Morphological Gender Languages

Sebastian Clendenning-Jimenez, Keira Colleluori, Jesus Duarte & Zaphiel Kiriko Miller

Abstract: When most people think of the term “grammatical gender,” they probably think about masculine-feminine gender languages, wherein the genders of most words referring to people align with the gender of the person being referenced, yet this is actually a narrow understanding in linguistic theory. Masculine-feminine (including masculine-feminine-neuter) morphological gender is one of the systems of nominal classification described by Corbett (1991). While biological sex and social gender are fundamental organizing principles of these languages, how these features interact with the grammar is not well-described. The fact that these systems often include no other animate genders besides masculine and feminine leads to nonbinary, trans, and other gender-nonconforming people engineering their own solutions for linguistic self-representation. In doing so, they identify many features (e.g. pronominal, lexicosemantic, morphophonological) that transcend definitions of linguistic gender as purely morphological and are found in languages considered genderless by the same theory.

In order to critically analyze the ways that even languages considered to “have gender” challenge the current theory of morphological gender, we present a typological analysis of four masculine-feminine gender languages: Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, and Modern Irish. We assembled a corpus comprised of data in prescriptive grammars and in proposals from queer communities that document where social gender is distinguished in these languages, including all known data on the realization of gender-inclusive forms in each.

Though all four languages have morphological gender, they also form gendered distinctions in ways that move beyond inflectional (including affixal) gender morphology—for instance, there exist pairs of lexical items that are gender-marked by what seems to be semantics only (e.g. hombre ‘man’ and mujer ‘woman’ in Spanish). In Modern Irish, gender is more tenuously related to semantics (e.g. cailín ‘girl’ is masculine due to its form) and morphology (e.g. the -(e)ach ending is feminine for mass nouns, but masculine for countable nouns), and the gender of the referent is implicated in case-specific, word-initial morphophonological mutations following certain articles (e.g. a madra [ə madra] ‘her dog’, a mhadra [ə wadra] ‘his dog’; Stenson, 2020). Finally, all four languages have attested gender-inclusive innovations in their personal pronominal systems (e.g. elle in Spanish, elu in Portuguese, elli in Catalan, and siad in Modern Irish; Acosta Matos, 2016; Lobo & Gaigaia, 2014; Fajardo Martín, 2021; Ní Choistealbha, 2018). In the case of Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan, these pronouns are tied to inclusive gender morphemes (e.g. -e/-x, -e/-i, and -i/-x, respectively) which together are the canonical elements of additional morphological genders designating neutrality and/or specifically nonbinary gender identities.

While these features (pronominal, lexicosemantic, morphophonological) are unified in languages considered to “have gender,” all of them are also found in languages considered “genderless,” signaling that the extant theory of morphological gender fails to explain the realization of all gender in “gendered” languages. Analyzing language from the perspective of social gender allows us to construct a new definition of gender in language in which nonbinary, trans, and gender-nonconforming speakers are at the center of this understanding, not morphology alone.

Gender in Languages of East Asia

Serah Sim, Chelsea Tang & Irene Yi

Abstract: Contemporary theories of gender in language define the feature as morphological (and to a lesser extent, pronominal; Corbett, 1991). Isolating languages reveal a major weakness in this definition in that they encode normative gender despite their lack of inflectional morphology. Social gender is indeed marked in canonically “genderless” languages, including those that lack clear morphemic boundaries. In this paper, we focus on features of gender in three languages of East Asia: Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese. The former is alphabetic while the latter two are character-based, and all demonstrate features of gender that transcend the current definition of linguistic gender as purely morphological. These features (lexicosemantic, pronominal, radical, character) are not described by any predominant theory of gender in language, yet they hold the potential to improve upon this literature to explain the reality of gendered language for queer and trans people globally.

In alphabetic languages like Korean, letters indicate the phonology of the word they compose, and it is rarely the case that individual letters have an inherent meaning. There exist many pairs of words in Korean that have normatively masculine and feminine forms (어머니 ‘mother’, 아버지 ‘father’); these may be analyzed as lexicosemantic features of gender which can serve as the base forms for related words ((외)할아버지 ‘grandfather’, (외)할머니 ‘grandmother’; Yeon & Brown, 2019). As Korean has been heavily influenced by Chinese, the languages share related features: the Korean words 남자 ‘male’ and 여자 ‘female’ are derived from the Sino-Korean 男 ⼦ and ⼥⼦, respectively, both of which use the Chinese radical ⼦ ‘son’. This male bias is reflected in the Korean word 사람 ‘person’, which is commonly understood to mean ‘man’, invoking the use of 여자 ‘female’ as a more specific alternative.

Distinct from alphabetic languages, character-based languages often bear meaning in their orthographic systems. In Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese, both of which use Chinese orthography, radicals and non-radical subparts comprise each character, though not all are realized phonetically. In both languages, there exist two distinct semantic radicals, the ‘male’ or ‘human’ radical (亻) and the ‘female’ radical (⼥) which distinguish normatively male (他) and female-specific (她) third-person singular personal pronouns in written Chinese. To collapse this distinction, Mandarin speakers have proposed the use of the innovative X radical (X也) and the radical ⽆ ‘none/not any’ (⽆也; Lai, 2020; Zhu, 2021). In Cantonese, ‘male’ and ‘female’ radicals can double gender-mark certain kinship terms (伯⽗ ‘father’s older brother’, 姑媽 ‘father’s older sister’) and produce pejorative definitions in the feminine (伎 ‘skill’, 妓 ‘prostitute’), as in Mandarin (Chin & Burridge, 1993).

Together, these features represent crucial omissions from contemporary definitions of linguistic gender. These definitions particularly fail Chinese orthography, which features radical- and character-based (and often phonetically unrealized) methods of encoding gender. In reanalyzing linguistic gender from the perspective of social gender, languages of East Asia contribute greatly to an understanding which does not privilege linguistic gender as purely morphological, in turn allowing us to imagine pathways to language change for queer, trans, and nonbinary speakers of these languages.


CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS

Cross-Romance Typologies of Gender-Neutrality and Gender-Expansiveness (with Jennifer Kaplan)

2023 Modern Language Association Annual Convention

Abstract: The Romance languages, as both arguably the best-documented language family and one where grammatical gender is a characteristic feature, present an excellent case-study for comparing gender-neutral and gender-inclusive (GNGI) morphological marking innovations cross-linguistically. Though studies have investigated these phenomena in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Catalan individually, we present here what is to our knowledge the first typological analysis of cross-Romance morphological gender innovation. Moving beyond the use of epicene nouns and abstractions, speakers of each have proposed and attested nonbinary personal pronouns and morphemic innovations. While this is perhaps unsurprising given their close typological relationship, all of them have done so in similar ways despite the peculiarities of each. This is especially visible in personal pronominal innovation: French (e.g. iel), Spanish (e.g. elle), Portuguese (e.g. elu), Italian (e.g. loi), and Catalan (e.g. elli) have used prescriptive masculine and feminine forms as a basis upon which to engineer neutral or specifically nonbinary alternatives, including by blending the two (e.g iel in French), or by installing a vocalic morpheme without a canonically masculine or feminine value (e.g. elle in Spanish). Each language has attested different symbolic innovations which have identified and replaced different markers of gender in writing (e.g. tutt* in Italian). Finally, across Romance, where the majority of gender-inflected endings are vowels, there is a tendency to derive GNGI forms with a vocalic morpheme that is situated at a phonetic midpoint between masculine and feminine morphemes pre-existing within the morphological and phonological inventories of each language (e.g., espose [Spanish], espose [Portuguese], spose [Italian], ‘spouse’]. These findings demonstrate a common pathway to language change based around processes of speaker self-identification that are perhaps generalizable beyond Romance. Where languages have gendered personal pronouns and morphological gender-marking, these become two of the first sites to be transformed by non-binary speakers, creating a phenomenon whereby speakers innovate additional gender categories in the grammar of each language, often through the use of extant linguistic resources.



Date: January 5-8, 2023

Language: English

Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

2023

Global Spanish and Grammars of Resistance

20th Meeting of the Israeli Association for the Study of Language and Society

Slides


Abstract: Besides being one of the most spoken languages in the world, Spanish is one of the only that has developed additional categories of gender in its grammar in systematic ways. Responsible for this change in progress are queer, trans, nonbinary and other gender-nonconforming speakers, as well as their allies, who have subverted the language’s forcibly binary gender system by innovating nonbinary solutions in the form of additional grammatical genders. These genders have the explicit purpose of ensuring that all gender identities may be adequately represented in the language. Most common among them are the e and x genders, which have been emblematized in the personal pronoun elle ‘they [SG.]’ and the term latinx, respectively (Papadopoulos, 2022). In this presentation, I will discuss the history of the gender-inclusive forms today, contextualize their significance as forms of resistance, disprove some of the logics behind negative attitudes surrounding them, and position Spanish as a model for strategies of resistance in other global languages. The gender-inclusive Spanish forms of today follow from a long history of global feminist activism which has advocated to change the patriarchal form and function of prescriptive Spanish (Bengoechea, 2015). Following in this tradition, speakers have extended feminists’ logics (e.g. Wittig, 1985) to subvert the system of binary gender entirely and make available terms of self-identification besides those masculine and feminine in the present day. The innovations they have popularized have crucial decolonial, anti-racist, and trans- and nonbinary-gender-affirming associations that have influenced the emerging shape of gender-inclusivity in other global languages. I propose that Spanish, especially given its status as one of the most global languages in the world, pushes the boundaries of normativity in ways that we may learn from and incorporate both empirically and within community.



Date: June 19, 2022

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2022

Introducing the Gender in Language Project (with Jennifer Kaplan)

28th Lavender Languages and Linguistics Conference

Abstract: For a language to be identified as “having gender” linguistically, it must fulfill three criteria: 1) it must have system-wide nominal classes and all of the language’s nouns must be assigned to one of these classes, 2) the gender value of the noun must trigger patterns of morphosyntactic agreement on dependent elements, and 3) there must be a basis to the gender assignments, whether formal, semantic, or both in combination (Dixon, 1982; Corbett, 1991; Kramer, 2015). Languages that violate any of these three criteria (including some that have gender morphology) are not considered to have the feature of gender, and because the systems of nominal classification this theory describes are more often called “gender,” non-qualifying languages are subsequently identified as “genderless.” However, this canonical labelling of languages as linguistically “gendered” or “genderless” crucially cannot account for the ways in which linguistic gender at any level is correlated with social gender, even in so-called “genderless” languages. Queer, trans, nonbinary, and other gender-nonconforming speakers of different languages have identified features that they believe to mark normative masculine and feminine (social) gender and proposed innovations meant to be inclusive of people of other genders. In doing so, they point out the main reason our definition of “linguistic gender” should change: it has material consequences.

These consequences manifest chiefly in structural discrimination, which produces psychological and bodily harm. At the institutional level, language academies, such as the Real Academia Española have taken reactionary stances against gender-inclusive language that discourage the widespread use of gender-confirming language in society. While rejecting gender-inclusive language, these bodies indirectly cite linguistic theories of gender which state that the feature is arbitrary (e.g. Ibrahim, 1973). Most saliently, the Académie Française’s characterization of inclusive French as putting the French language in ‘péril mortel’ (AF, 2017) has emboldened homophobic and transphobic rhetoric in the French press, whereby ‘inclusive writing’ and related terms (e.g. ‘novlangue’) become far-right dog-whistles against progressive causes in general. On the individual level, where linguistic marking of speakers as normatively masculine or feminine is obligatory, trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconfirming individuals are repeatedly misgendered, which not only has profoundly negative psychological impacts (Langer, 2011) but can also prevent individuals from accessing healthcare (Namaste, 2000), and can cause other bodily harm. Thus, canonical definitions of linguistic gender do not correlate with the lived experiences of speakers of those languages, which (socially) gender referents in other salient ways.

By contrast, the Gender in Language Project proposes an alternative model for defining linguistic gender which begins from the perspective of social gender. We argue that a new definition focused on the multivariate ways that social gender categories may become encoded in language not only resolves differential understandings of the concepts of social and grammatical gender, but it also empirically strengthens the connection between them, and allows for a theory which corroborates the lived experiences of queer, trans, nonbinary, and other gender-nonconforming people globally with language.



Date: May 23-25, 2022

Language: English

Location: University of Catania, Italy

2022

Catalana, Cantaora, or Reggaetonera? Rosalía and the Linguistic Performance of Persona (with Aurora Martínez Kane)

New Ways of Analyzing Variation 49

Presentation

Slides


Abstract: Sociolinguists have investigated linguistic performativity, including musical performance, as a function of style-shifting and part of the creation of a linguistic ‘persona’ (Trudgill, 1983; D’Onofrio, 2018). One recent point of interest both in sociolinguistics and the media has been the performance of linguistic features associated with the speech of marginalized communities; this type of linguistic performance, especially when done by people who occupy a privileged position in relation to said communities, has sparked discussion on authenticity and appropriation. While some linguistic studies have examined this phenomenon in English-language music, exploring the ways singers use linguistic features outside of their native varieties to project authenticity and succeed commercially in their chosen genres (e.g. Keith Urban; Duncan, 2017), sometimes at the expense of the communities in which those features originated (e.g. Iggy Azalea; Eberhardt & Freeman, 2015), fewer studies have analyzed this phenomenon outside of anglophone contexts.

The music of Grammy Award-winning Catalonian-Spanish singer Rosalía, who performs primarily in the flamenco and reggaetón genres, has become controversial in the Spanish-speaking and Latinx media due to questions of inauthenticity related to issues of ethnicity and power both within Spain and between Spain and Latin America. Within Spain, the genre of flamenco is generally said to have originated with marginalized Romani artists in Andalusia in southern Spain (Vega Cortés, 2011). For this reason, some Spanish publications and Romani activists have criticized the Catalonian Rosalía for appropriating Romani Caló words and Roma imagery in her work without acknowledgement and “adopting an Andalusian accent” when singing (Beatley, 2018). A similar controversy has arisen outside of Spain regarding Rosalía’s success in the reggaetón genre, originated by and associated with Caribbean Afro-Latinx artists (Agrelo, 2019).

This paper presents the results of a quantitative sociophonetic analysis which compares Rosalía’s spontaneous speech both to her flamenco music, which comprises most of her solo discography, and her reggaetón collaborations with Latin American artists, seeking to answer the question of whether or not she exhibits evidence of style-shifting in her music, and what might motivate her to do so. We assembled a corpus of eleven of her studio recordings, including all six of her released collaborations with Latin American artists in which she is a lead vocalist, five of her solo recordings, and samples of her spontaneous speech, and coded the presence or absence of word-medial and word-final /s/, widely cited as one of the most salient features identifying different regional dialects of Global Spanish (Lipski, 1983; 2015). A fixed-effects logistic regression reveals that Rosalía is significantly more /s/-less word-finally when she performs in both flamenco (p<0.001) and reggaetón (p<0.001) genres as compared to her largely /s/-ful native dialect, signaling a robust and parallel effect of style-shifting. Additional quantitative and qualitative analyses reveal other indicators of style-shifting between genres (e.g. the adoption of cultural imagery and thematics) which we suggest boost listeners’ perceptions of her performance as culturally authentic. We argue that the use of linguistic features associated with culturally symbolic varieties is one important resource artists may utilize to succeed commercially.



Date: October 22, 2021

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2021

How to Make a Gendered Language Inclusive: Sensitivity to Gendered Personal References in Global Spanish

50th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest

Abstract: Gender-inclusive language identifies a phenomenon that is only nebulously described in linguistic theory: that social gender categories can seemingly become grammaticalized in language, and when this happens, there is an overwhelming tendency for those categories to be masculine and feminine genders to the exclusion of all others. In recent years, nonbinary and other gender-nonconforming speakers have asserted that maximally binary linguistic genders are incapable of representing nonbinary gender identities by promoting the use of gender-neutral and/or gender-inclusive forms which are neither masculine nor feminine grammatically. One language in particular has proliferated perhaps the most gender-inclusive forms and attestations: Global Spanish, a masculine-feminine morphological gender language for which speakers have invented neologistic, inclusive gender morphemes (e.g. -e, -x) and personal pronouns (e.g. elle, ellx ‘they [SG.]’) that are now used by queer communities around the world to self-identify (Lara Icaza, 2014; Bengoechea, 2015). While their modification of the language reveals something crucial about the role of speaker gender in the grammar, one primary question remains: where do speakers believe social gender to be marked in gendered languages?

This paper presents the results of an elicited production task performed with twenty adult Spanish speakers (ten native speakers and ten beginning learners, both also minimally speakers of English), in which participants were asked to transform prescriptively gendered Spanish passages to become gender-inclusive. Passages were personal narratives containing nouns of all possible semantic and morphological types, which were coded as either transformed (e.g. amigue, personx) or untransformed (e.g. amigo, persona) by participants. The same texts were presented in two counterbalanced conditions: a written condition, in which participants transformed them using their keyboard and cursor on the survey platform Qualtrics, and a verbal condition, in which participants read their transformations aloud. A fixed-effects logistic regression run on 6,640 observations revealed a significant interaction between modality (written, verbal) and order of presentation of the conditions (p=.0044) which was not significantly mediated by group, such that all participants were most likely to transform content in the written condition, especially when it was presented first. There were also several between-group differences in the rate of transformation of nouns of different semantic and morphological types which were dependent upon participants’ language backgrounds, such that beginning learners with knowledge of another masculine-feminine gender language were most sensitive to canonical gender-paired nouns referring to people (p<0.001) and, conversely, native speakers without knowledge of another masculine-feminine gender language were least sensitive to these nouns (p<0.001). Additional quantitative and qualitative analyses, including analyses of the individual inclusivity strategies employed by participants, reveal that gender-inclusive Spanish was primarily realized as a single inclusive grammatical gender whose usage is controlled by semantics. In light of these findings, I argue the importance of understanding the interconnection of linguistic and social genders in order to build a theory of (social) gender in language that privileges global queer communities and their access to adequate forms of self-identification.



Date: September 23-25, 2021

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2021

Queer Speakers and Gendered Language: A New Linguistic Gender Typology

27th Annual Lavender Languages and Linguistics Conference

Slides


Abstract: The primary motivation behind queer gendered language reform proposals over the past several decades has remained the same: social gender can be grammaticalized, and for many speakers, this presents a problem (Wittig, 1985). Where gendered distinctions appear in the grammar, they are usually binary and leave little or no opportunity to express gender-neutrality or gender-inclusivity unless speakers create an innovative form of personal reference. Yet even for masculine-feminine morphological (or grammatical) gender, perhaps the most obvious example of this phenomenon, many linguists still argue that linguistic gender is unrelated to social gender, even where people are referenced. While we are now beginning to understand how the possibility of expressing gender-inclusivity can be created in gendered languages (e.g. latinx, elle 'they [sg.]' in Spanish; Acosta Matos, 2016, iel 'they [sg.]' in French; Knisley, 2020), current definitions of linguistic gender fail to address its complex interconnection with social gender and the other gendered features of language (e.g. personal pronouns, lexical gender) which are excluded from descriptions of morphological gender. This paper explores a new linguistic gender typology—one that takes as starting point queer speakers’ identifications of grammatical distinctions based on social gender—in order to ground the issue of gender in language with relation to gender self-identification, isolating those systems which have linguistic gender distinctions based on social gender from those which do not. Special focus is placed on typologically dissimilar languages—for instance Mandarin Chinese, wherein feminine gender can be marked with its own radical (e.g. 'she')—to decenter the study of Western languages and cultures through this approach. In this way, evidence that some linguistic gender is at least partially related to social gender, provided by nonbinary and other queer speakers who have innovated nonbinary forms of personal reference, may be incorporated into a new theory which contends that social gender categories may become encoded into language, and that these are not closed categories. The establishment of such a theory seeks to systematize research on nonbinary gender in language and assert the humanity of the issue and its critical importance to gender-nonconforming speakers.



Date: May 23, 2021

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2021

Refuting Language Academies’ Rejections of Nonbinary Grammatical Gender (with Gabriella Licata)

95th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America

Featured in LSA Media Release

Slides


Abstract: Descriptions of grammatical gender as an arbitrary feature of language are challenged by the innovation of nonbinary pronominal and morphological forms in Spanish (e.g. latinx ¹, elle ‘they [sg.]’), French (e.g. iel ‘they [sg.]’), and Italian (e.g. tutt* ‘everyone’) which work outside the prescriptive constraints of the language to create true gender neutrality and/or to express specifically nonbinary gender identities. First explored by feminist linguists in the 1970s (e.g. Lakoff, 1973), the idea that gender-marked features of language mirror a naturalization of binary social gender motivated anti-sexist language reforms which sought to rectify male-biased linguistic traits through the equal frequency and significance of masculine and feminine forms (e.g. Bengoechea, 2008). Challenging the notion that gendered linguistic features must be binary, recent gender-neutral/nonbinary language reforms instead point to the very existence of gender in the grammar as the issue, proposing to subvert binary gender distinctions in personal reference by innovating nonbinary forms in speech and in writing (e.g. Gómez, 2016). Both types of language reform proposals have been directed at prescriptive institutions like the Real Academia Española [RAE], l'Académie Française [AF], and the Accademia della Crusca [AC], authorities which reject them as unnatural and a threat to the purity of the language, and which continue to uphold androcentric prescriptive grammatical rules. This paper analyzes these academies' rejections of anti-sexist and gender-neutral/nonbinary reforms and characterizes their language planning policies as emblematic of structural linguicism targeted at gender minorities (Skutnabb-Kangas, 1988). Our analysis is based on a data corpus of official academy statements issued in interviews and on their respective websites and social media accounts, which serve to guide the public on the appropriate use of standard language. In these statements, the academies reveal standard language ideologies fueled by language panic (Hill, 2001) and language subordination (Lippi-Green, 2012), influencing oppressive language policies that discriminate against speakers on the basis of gender identity. We find that these academies reject nonbinary linguistic representations by citing constraints which are not linguistic, as their claims do not follow from empirical evidence or sociolinguistic theories of language variation and change. Given that these institutions have historically imposed standardized languages as instruments of settler colonialism and global capitalism, the academies are embedded in a larger structure of hegemonic power that works to marginalize social groups through the disenfranchisement of their forms of self-expression. This paper contextualizes structural linguicism against gender-fair and gender-neutral language, calling attention to the androcentrism that currently underpins gendered language, and asserting the validity of speakers’ forms of self-expression.


¹ The closest English translation of latinx is 'Latino', the racial, ethnic, and/or cultural self-identification, not 'Latin' as in the language. ‘Latino’ and ‘Latinx’ are not equivalent because whereas the former retains masculine gender marking, the latter does not.


In LSA Media Release: Queer and nonbinary speakers around the world have created nonbinary forms of personal reference in masculine-feminine gendered languages in order to escape the violent cycle of being misgendered and misgendering others. However, Romance language academies, largely viewed as the “authorities” of the languages they govern, continue to passionately reject gender-inclusive language. As an example, l’Académie Française frames gender-inclusive forms as ''aberrations'' that threaten French cultural heritage and place the language in “mortal danger.” While these academies justify their discriminatory practices by claiming the arbitrariness of masculine-feminine grammatical gender (a belief that many linguists continue to uphold), they themselves state that words with personal reference are grammatically gendered based on “biological sex” or “natural gender,” thereby promoting transphobia and other forms of gender discrimination. In highlighting the discriminatory practices of the academies, we reveal the colonial and patriarchal structures of hegemonic power that underpin globally standardized language and the academies’ ideologically-charged devaluations of speakers’ access to adequate self-expression. Moreover, we refute the justifications present in their rejections by demonstrating how they are unsubstantiated by empirically-grounded sociolinguistic principles (see Lippi-Green, 2012 for a discussion on language subordination). We avidly call for Romance language academies to formally accept community-innovated gender-inclusive language given the societal influence they wield, and to recognize the importance of access to nonbinary forms of personal reference as a humanitarian issue.


Date: January 9, 2021

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2021

Latinx as the Decolonization of Spanish

49th Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Association of the Southwest

Slides


Abstract: The term latinx, part of a larger set of innovative Spanish forms meant to avoid gendering human subjects, has proliferated in Spanish- and English-language speech communities, across social media networks, and even in some university contexts. By forgoing the canonically gendered terms latino and latina, authors and adopters of latinx and related forms recognize a relationship between grammatical gender and social gender which is not always identified within linguistic research, but which has motivated linguistic activism addressing the problematic ways that gender is encoded into language for decades. The -x is one of many gender-neutral/non-binary morphemic and pronominal innovations to Spanish grammatical gender (e.g. l*s alumn*s ‘the students,’ elle ‘they [sg.],’ latine) which seeks either to add another grammatical gender designating specifically non-binary (social) gender, or to collapse the distinction of gender in language entirely, creating true gender neutrality (Lara Icaza, 2014; Gómez, 2016). While the significance and usage of these innovations varies between the speech communities that employ them, the use of the -x in former settler colonies has elicited particular associations with Indigeneity and the Indigenous languages of México which feature orthographic <x> (Salinas, 2020). With this insight, the -x and other methods of ‘undoing’ grammatical gender can be understood as the decolonization of Spanish in Latin America and the United States by tracing the role of language through decolonial feminist theory (e.g. Lugones, 2008), which provides a more complete account of the power structures underlying gendered language than Western feminist, queer, and trans theory alone.

Because the Spanish language was a colonial imposition in these zones, meant to acculturate and colonize the minds and lived experiences of Indigenous peoples (Mignolo, 1995; Maldonado-Torres, 2007), the coloniality of Spanish in former settler colonies is reflected in the nation-state institutions which have historically tried to render Indigenous languages extinct, and which have simultaneously imposed inferiorizing categories of race (Quijano, 1992a/2007) and binary gender (Lugones, 2008) as interrelated instruments of genocide and social domination. The Real Academia Española [RAE] 'Royal Spanish Academy’ is one such colonial institution which has participated in the linguistic genocide of Indigenous languages, and which continues to prescribe patriarchal rules of maximally binary gender in standard Spanish, making it the primary target for language reformists given its status as the most influential Spanish language academy. As an extension of the ongoing rejection of feminist, anti-sexist Spanish language reform proposals by the RAE (see Bengoechea, 2008), gender-neutral/non-binary Spanish language reform proposals continue to be targeted at institutions of prescriptive language which uphold the coloniality of gender and the repression of Indigenous languages. The increasing usage and legitimation of the -x and related innovations can therefore be understood as a decolonial feminist tool meant to decolonize the Spanish language, as these forms confront multiple power structures at once and attempt to subvert them by inventing options for self-expression outside of the institutions put in place by European colonialism.


Date: September 25, 2020

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2020

Morphological Gender Innovations in Spanish of Nonbinary Speakers

Hispanic Linguistics Symposium 2019

Slides


Abstract: Spanish features a morphological gender binary canonically marked by the suffixal morpheme -o for the masculine gender (e.g. bombero), and -a for the feminine (e.g. enfermera). The constraints of this system present very few possibilities to recognize human referents that don’t identify within the biological masculine-feminine construct, and there is no morphological marker not assigned to one of the extant grammatical genders (Harris 1991). The lack of prescriptive or otherwise normative means for evading the assignment of biological gender in personal reference is a predicament that nonbinary speakers must confront in their native languages. Innovations to morphological gender in Spanish have been attested in the speech of genderqueer speakers, such as suffixal -x (latinx), -e (latine), and -i (Diz Pico 2017; Group Anarquista Pirexia 2011). The variation and use of these forms is seldom the subject of empirical investigation, nor are they currently championed by any official prescriptive language institution, which would afford them considerable legitimacy (Lara Icaza 2014). The Real Academia Española insists that all nouns be described by masculine and feminine forms, and they reject usages that promote the existence of more than two morphological genders (Bosque 2012; Heredero 2007; Lomotey 2011). This opposition underscores morphological gender binaries as sexist at best, and transphobic at worst (Hord 2016). In order to investigate usage patterns and attitudes towards innovative nonbinary morphological variants in the California Bay Area, 11 native Spanish speakers who identify with the nonbinary community participated in an elicited production task and sociolinguistic interview. In the task, participants were presented with images depicting speaker referents paired with action images and told in English to describe each stimulus as blonde and tall in order to elicit Spanish sentences with adjectives inflected for gender. Referents were stratified according to gender information (unspecified vs. explicitly nonbinary) and number (singular vs. plural) in order to (1) examine the frequency of unique nonbinary morphological variants used, and (2) assess the envelope of variation (Tagliamonte 2012) of these forms, especially when a nonbinary identity is explicitly known. In the sociolinguistic interview, participants were asked to offer opinions on the nonbinary innovations, as well as to discuss their perspective about gender in Spanish. Whereas referent number was not found to significantly affect innovative (nonbinary) vs. non-innovative (canonical masculine/feminine) gender morphological production (χ2=0.92, df=1, p=.33), nonbinary morphological production was used significantly more with explicitly nonbinary referents (100%) than unspecified referents (15%) (Yates’ χ2=104.7, df=1, p<.0001). Attested innovations included –e (55%), -x (41%), and –i (4%), and additionally for unspecified referents, participants notably avoided biological gender assignment by producing noun phrases (e.g. tiene pelo rubio instead of es rubio/a). Qualitatively, many participants provided an articulate understanding of the patriarchal traits of Spanish and expressed reservations about the pronounceability of certain morphemes, like -x. Ultimately, these results serve to illuminate a global limitation of language, namely the conflation of biology with discrete, arbitrary categories, and to contextualize these innovations within natural processes of language variation and change (Labov 2001).


Date: October 25, 2019

Language: English

Location: University of Texas at El Paso

2019


INVITED PRESENTATIONS

My Research Process: Gender-Inclusive Language

Study Skills E (SS 2022, Universität Augsburg), Instructor: Dr. Evelin Balog

Date: June 2, 2022

Language: English

Location: Universität Augsburg, Germany

2022

Decolonizing Gender in Spanish

SPANISH 179 (Summer 2022, UCB), Instructor: Gabriella Licata

Date: May 31, 2022

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2022

Il genere in italiano

ITALIAN 1R (Spring 2022, UCB), Instructor: Dr. Annamaria Bellezza

Date: February 10, 2022

Language: Italian

Location: University of California, Berkeley

2022

Date: December 2, 2021

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2021

Community Outreach in Linguistic Research: My Work on the Gender in Language Project

LING 155AC—DIS 102 (Fall 2021, UCB), Instructor: Emily Remirez

Date: October 21, 2021

Language: English

Location: University of California, Berkeley

2021

Inclusive Language in Latin America: Spanish Panel

Ohio State University Center for Latin American Studies

Panel

Event Information


Date: October 13, 2021

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2021

How to Make a Gendered Language Inclusive

UCB Dept. of Spanish and Portuguese Spring 2021 Lecture Series

Date: April 23, 2021

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2021

Introduction to Gender in Language and Latinx as the Decolonization of Spanish

HRNS 305V (Spring 2021), Wichita State University, Instructor: Dr. Rachel Showstack

Course Title: Language and Community

Date: February 10, 2021

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2021

El género y la morfología en español (with Gabriella Licata)

SPAN 162 (Spring 2021), University of California, Berkeley, Instructor: Dr. Jhonni Carr

Course Title: Spanish Morphology and Syntax

Date: February 2, 2021

Language: Spanish

Location: Presented virtually

2021

Introduction to Linguicism

SOCWEL 150L (Summer 2020), University of California, Berkeley, Instructor: Ivy Hammond

Course Title: Sexuality and Social Work

Date: July 23, 2020

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2020

Gender in Languages Other than English (Part of Panel with Dr. Lal Zimman)

New York University School of Law OUTLaw Trans Week of Action

Date: April 9, 2020

Language: English

Location: Presented virtually

2020


OTHER PRESENTATIONS

Morphological Gender Innovations in Spanish of Genderqueer Speakers

Third Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Linguistics Symposium

Date: December 1, 2018

Language: English

Location: University of California, Berkeley

2018


TEACHING

LGBT 20AC (DIS 101-102)—Sexual Politics and Queer Organizing in the U.S.

University of California, Berkeley

Fall 2022

SPAN 2 (REC 001)—Elementary Spanish

University of California, Berkeley

Spring 2022

SPAN 2 (REC 001)—Elementary Spanish

University of California, Berkeley

Fall 2021

SPAN 1 (REC 001)—Elementary Spanish

University of California, Berkeley

Spring 2021

SPAN 1 (REC 001)—Elementary Spanish

University of California, Berkeley

Fall 2020


MENTORSHIP

Mentor, Spanish & Portuguese Research Apprenticeship Practicum [SpanPortRAP]

Department of Spanish & Portuguese, University of California, Berkeley

Project: Gender in Language

Mentees: Ina Nierotka, Kalinda Reynolds

Spring 2022—

Mentor, Linguistics Research Apprenticeship Practicum [LRAP]

Department of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley

Project: Gender in Language

Mentees: Cooper Bedin, Carmela Blazado, Sebastian Clendenning, Sol Cintron, Keira Colleluori, Jesus Duarte, Julie Duran, Julie Ha, Serah Sim, Chelsea Tang

Past Mentees: Gabí Agramont-Justiniano, Chandler Fliege, Xuedi Yang, Irene Yi

Spring 2021—


FELLOWSHIPS AND GRANTS (Non-Departmental)

Philip Brett LGBT Studies Fellowship

University of California, Berkeley

2022

Conference Travel Grant

Graduate Division, University of California, Berkeley

2022

LGBTQ Citizenship Cluster Project Grant

Othering & Belonging Institute, University of California, Berkeley

2021

Center for Latin American Studies Summer Research Grant

University of California, Berkeley

2020


WORKSHOPS

How to Write an Abstract in (Socio)linguistics

Gender in Language Project, University of California, Berkeley

Contents


Date: February 7, 2022

Language: English

Location: University of California, Berkeley

2022

How to Do Research: A Guide for Berkeley Undergraduates, Written by a Former Berkeley Undergraduate

Amanecer Working Group, University of California, Berkeley

Contents


Date: December 19, 2020

Language: Spanish

Location: Presented virtually, in Spanish

2020


MEMBERSHIP AND SERVICE

Department Steward, UAW 2865

Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California, Berkeley

2021—2022

We Rise Volunteer, Amanecer Working Group

Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California, Berkeley

2020—

Reader, Lucero (Journal issued by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese)

University of California, Berkeley

2020—

Member, Language Variation and Change Working Group

University of California, Berkeley

2019—

Co-Organizer with Dr. Justin Davidson

2020—2022

Member, Sociolinguistics Lab at Berkeley [SLaB], Director: Dr. Isaac Bleaman

University of California, Berkeley

2019—

Co-Organizer with Dr. Isaac Bleaman

2021—2022

Delegate for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Graduate Assembly

University of California, Berkeley

2019—2021


AWARDS AND HONORS

Honorable Mention, Charlene Conrad Leibau Library Prize for Undergraduate Research

University of California, Berkeley

2019

John K. Walsh Undergraduate Scholarship

Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of California, Berkeley

2019

Completion of Linguistics Experience Enrichment Program

Department of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley

2019

Dean’s Honors

College of Letters and Science, University of California, Berkeley

2014—2015


PAST RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

Linguistics Research Apprenticeship Practicum [LRAP]

Department of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley

2017—2018

Research Assistant for Edwin Ko, Unangam Tunuu (Aleut) Language Documentation and Crow (Sioux) Language Documentation

2018


LANGUAGES

English (Native), Spanish