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HULLS Schedule and Registration


Schedule for HULLS Conference, May 7, 2011









Welcoming Remarks



Gordon P. Hemsley (Queens)

Linguistics and the Open Web


Roy Wells (Brooklyn)

Common Problems Between Japanese and English


Mariel Acosta (Hunter) and Lluvia Camacho Cervantes (Endangered Language Alliance)

A Study of Existencial Predicates in Amuzgo Language


Ingrid Feeney,
Maja Leonardsen Musum,
Agnieszka Stypulkowska (Brooklyn)

“Disco Sticks" and "Catcher's Mitts": Gender and terms for the genitals among New Yorkers


Coffee Break



Keynote: Doug Bigham

The role of sexuality in the construction of gender



Workshop: Applying to Graduate School


Emma Mendelson (Hunter)

Baby Wont You Fight With Fire?: Exploring the Structures of Power in the Debate on Marijuana Legalization


Victoria Wagnerman (Brooklyn)

The Formulaic Language Proficiency of Well Educated Non-Native English Speakers


Laura Leisinger (Hunter)

The Writing Center as “Right”ing Center: Symbolic Violence in the
Practice and Theory of Tutoring


Gulbarchyn Kyshtobaeva (Brooklyn)


The characteristics of Nouns and Verbs in Kyrgyz: evidence from child and adult language production



Jackelyn M. Mariano (Hunter)


Jejemon: A Linguistic Threat to the Philippine Economy?


Coffee Break



Keynote: Ben Zimmer

The New Rap Language: The Emergence of the Hip-Hop Lexis


End of Conference



Please pre-register for HULLS! Hunter College is now a closed campus and all visitors must be signed in. Pre-registration will facilitate your entry to the building. Also, we are planning on providing lunch for participants and would like to have as accurate an estimate as possible before the conference.




Doug Bigham and Ben Zimmer at HULLS

The HULLS Conference is starting to shape up very nicely. In fact, I'm expecting much of the conference to be bombass. We are lucky to have two of the more awesome linguists around to speak at the HULLS, Doug Bigham and Ben Zimmer! Following are the abstracts for their talks. X


The role of sexuality in the construction of gender

Douglas S. Bigham


What gender is “gay man”?  While the question may seem trivial or, even worse, potentially insulting, the response lies at the heart of modern sociolinguistic inquiry.

Social scholars have long recognized that gender is not equivalent to or necessarily even derived from biological sex.  Gender is a social construction—a category incorporating inequalities in social access, mobility, and the expression of one’s sexual being—the interaction of pervasively different social histories, freedoms, and sanctions.

Once we begin to deconstruct our expectations of gender, then, should we not expect a functional difference between the broad strokes of “straight man” and “gay man”?  Gay and straight men, after all, have different kinds of social access, networks, expectations for mobility, and—for the last two centuries, at least—widely different sanctions on the expression of self.  What is that if not a description of two different genders?

Although we’ve long known that a speaker’s gender influences the way he or she engages linguistic practice (to the point where we’ve developed a set of near axioms: women are at the forefront of language change, men use more vernacular forms, etc.), sociolinguistics remains stuck in a model that reifies gender qua normative biological sex.  The majority of sociolinguistic publications continue to use a male/female dichotomy solely, excluding any contribution of sexuality in the construction of gender.  Even in those works where gender is allowed to be a “locally constructed” category, the biologically based male/female split remains deeply entrenched.  Meanwhile, research that includes an explicit awareness of sexuality as an intrinsic component of a speaker’s sociality languishes in the academic ghetto of “queer studies”—studies set apart from “normal” research, excepted as something one only considers if one is explicitly investigating “queer people”.

So I ask again, what gender is “gay man”?

As I will show with a combination of sock puppet discourse and word-list phonetics, “gay man” is a separate gender, compositionally distinct from the broader categories of both “queer” and “male”.  Using a four-way distinction of gender (man, woman, gay, lesbian), I will show how the incorporation of sexuality as an explicit aspect of speaker gender allows us to more fully understand and interpret sociolinguistic data.  I will argue that the continued ignorance of speaker sexuality in sociolinguistic research is equivalent to the ignorance of ethnicity, class, or age—and that it is our job as critical readers to adapt our methods and remain as aware of sexuality as we are of any other aspect of identity.  While this kind of reified box-model remains less than entirely desirable, it is only by first atomizing these possible dimensions of self-identity that we can gain an understanding of the resources available for true local identity construction.




The New Rap Language: The Emergence of the Hip-Hop Lexis

Ben Zimmer


For more than three decades, the lexicon of American slang has been vastly enriched by contributions from rap music and hip-hop culture more generally. The earliest lexical evidence for the emergence of hip-hop slang can be found in live concert recordings from the South Bronx and Upper Manhattan predating the first official rap records in 1979. A portion of one such recording (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Live at the Audubon Ballroom, Dec. 23, 1978) was recently transcribed for The Anthology of Rap (Bradley and DuBois 2010), and a passage from the same performance has been cited in the Oxford English Dictionary's latest revised entry for the verb rock (Zimmer 2010). Though the dating and transcribing of these performances can present challenges for the lexicographer, their historical significance encourages a careful analysis for citations of interest. This paper presents a survey of extant recordings with examples of their value for American slang lexicography.


Bradley, Adam and Andrew DuBois, eds. 2010. The Anthology of Rap. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Zimmer, Ben. 2010. "On Language: Rock the Mic." New York Times Magazine, July 11.



Hunter Undergraduate Linguistics Conference


The Hunter Linguistics Club is pleased to announce the first Hunter Undergraduate Linguistics and Language Study Conference (HULLS), which will take place at Hunter College on May 7, 2011. We welcome abstract submissions on original research from any topic of linguistics or language study. Abstracts will be accepted from undergraduate students attending any of the CUNY schools, regardless of major, as well as recent graduates who are not currently admitted or enrolled in a graduate program. Papers will be allotted 15 minutes with a 5 minute question/discussion period.

Abstracts must fit one page with 1” margins and 12-point font, and should present a well-defined thesis and a clear description of the topic, methods, and conclusions.

Abstracts should be sent to by midnight on Tuesday, March 22, 2011. Notification of acceptance will be given before March 30, 2011. The abstract must be emailed as an .rtf or .pdf attachment and pasted in the body of the email. Author(s) names should not be included in any attachments, but must be included in the body of the email with the following information:

—Paper title
—Author(s) name(s)
—Author(s) affiliation(s)
—e-mail address of each author´╗┐