Kirby Conrod

I work in sociosyntax; my work is informed by the Minimalist framework in generative syntax as well as variationist and interactionist sociolinguistics; due to the nature of my data (English pronouns) my work often dips into sociopragmatics and the syntax/pragmatics interface.

I also have a growing body of work that focuses on transgender issues and critiques of cisgender essentialist methodologies and bias in linguistics research. (On this page that work is sorted into the socio section, but you can also see my public-facing work.)

Pronouns Raising and Emerging

keywords: pragmatics; pronouns; sociolinguistics; syntax; transgender

Advisors: Barbara Citko and Alicia Beckford Wassink

On UW Linguistics website

On Proquest

Syntax interests

I am interested in the syntax of pronouns, in particular gendered third-person pronouns in English. I am researching where gender is encoded in the structure of pronouns, and how pronouns fit into the structure of DP. I work in the Minimalist Program, and incorporate insights from sociolinguistics and pragmatics into my study of syntax.

Works in syntax:

  • Conrod, K. We Who Are About to Die: Pronominal Relative Clauses as Light Headed Relative Clauses. First generals paper, focused on relative clauses headed by pronouns ("he who is without fear"), incorporated into a general theory of relative clauses by adopting a head-raising analysis. I propose that pronominal relative heads are generated in the nominal layer inside the relative clause, and that they are necessarily non-referential.
  • Conrod, K.; Tatman, R. and Koncel-Kedziorski, R. “We Who Tweet: Pronominal Relative Clauses on Twitter.” Corpus Linguistics Fest 2016, Bloomington, IN Link.
  • Conrod, K. "We Who Are About To Die: Pronominal Relative Clauses as Light Headed Relative Clauses." Arizona Linguistics Circle 2016.
  • Conrod, K. Names Before Pronouns: Variation in Pronominal Reference and Gender. Northwest Linguistics Conference, University of British Columbia, May 6, 2017. Abstract, full paper.
  • Conrod, K. and Brent Woo. Hydras: Split Heads and Light Heads. Poster. Linguistics Society of America Annual Meeting, Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan 7, 2018. Short abstract, poster.
  • Conrod, K. What Does It Mean To Agree? Coreference With Singular They. Pronouns in Competition workshop, University of California Santa Cruz, CA. April 26-28, 2018. Poster.
  • Conrod, K. (2019) Abolishing Gender on D. YYC Pronouns Workshop 2019, University of Calgary. November 14-16, 2019. Handout.
  • Conrod, K. (2020) Predicative Pronouns. Linguistics Society of America Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA. January 2-5, 2020. Handout.

Sociolinguistics interests

Pronouns are not socially neutral placeholders for NPs; they encode social relationships, sometimes explicitly (as in Thai honorific pronouns) and sometimes implicitly (as in gendered pronouns in English). I investigate how third-person pronouns are used socially, including looking at the innovative use of singular they in gender neutral specific contexts in English. Changes in the English pronominal system are mediated by changes in how social relationships are organized and conceptualized.

Sociolinguistics Works:

  • Conrod, K. Misgendering and Pronouns. Second generals paper, investigating how third-person pronouns in English are connected with gender, which is socially negotiated and constructed. The ways that people use pronouns about transgender referents reflects internal attitudes towards gender ideology.
  • Conrod, K. (2017). Names Before Pronouns: Variation in Pronominal Reference and Gender. Northwest Linguistics Conference, University of British Columbia, May 6, 2017. Full paper.
  • Conrod, K. (2017). Depronominalization and Gender Ideology. Poster. New Ways of Analyzing Variation, University of Wisconsin, Nov 3, 2017. Program, poster.
  • Conrod, K. Changes in Singular They. Cascadia Workshop in Sociolinguistics, Reed College, Portland, OR. April 13-14, 2018. Slides.
  • Conrod, K. Pronouns in Motion: a typology and methodology for examining dynamic variation . Lavender Languages and Linguistics, Rhode Island College, RI. April 19-22, 2018. Slides.
  • Conrod, K. (2018) Pronouns and Misgendering. New Ways Of Analyzing Variation, New York University, NY. October 18-22, 2018. Abstract, slides.
  • Conrod, K. (2019) Trans(itive) Gendering. Special panel: New Directions in LGBTQ+ Linguistics. Linguistics Society of America Annual Meeting, New York City, NY. January 2-5, 2019. Slides, blog post.
  • Conrod, K. (2019) Language, Gender, and Harm. Invited panel: Diversifying Linguistics. Georgetown University Round Table in Linguistics, Washington D.C. March 29-31. Slides, blog post.
  • Conrod, K. (2019) Nonbinary Singular 'they' in Apparent Time. Poster. New Ways of Analzying Variation 48, University of Oregon. October 10-12, 2019. Poster, extended abstract.
  • Conrod, K. (2019) Keynote: Doing Gender and Linguistics. They, Hirself, and Xem: nonbinary pronouns in research and practice, Kingston, ON. June 11-13, 2019. Slides.
  • Conrod, K. (2020). Pronouns and Gender in Language. In Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality, ed. Kira Hall and Rusty Barrett. Preprint, Link.