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Keynote lecture: Pronouns as the nexus of grammatical gender and gender expression

Tuesday, June 11, 2019
11:15 AM – 1:00 PM
Joseph S. Stauffer Library
Room: Speaker's Corner
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How we understand and interact with our surroundings does not necessarily rely on the linguistic system. However, how we refer to our surroundings (using language) relies on our perceptual and cognitive systems. We acquire categorical structure through linguistic classification and cultural norms. Pronouns and gender are an interesting case of categorization, as the common, two category system of classification (men / women) exists in languages with vastly different pronominal systems. Furthermore, as nonbinary genders (e.g., genders of people who do not fall neatly into the men/women dichotomy) become more visible, English in particular is developing strategies for using pronouns, both adaptively and creatively. How can we learn these novel uses as adults? In this talk, Dr. Ackerman will discuss a system for understanding how human gender is encoded in language through grammatical gender features and non-linguistic gender expectation with a focus on English and nonbinary gender.


This talk is one of four keynote talks during They, Hirself, Em and You: Nonbinary Pronouns inTheory and Practice, a conference held at Queen’s University from June 11-13 with the generous support of many Queen’s funds, units and departments, as well as the Canadian Linguistics Association and the University of Toronto Linguistics Department.

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