Kirby Conrod

PhD candidate in linguistics at the University of Washington. I study syntax within the framework of the Minimalist Program, and variationist sociolinguistics. In particular, I'm interested in synchronic and diachronic variation in third-person pronouns, and the interactions between pronouns and social identity.

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.
  • Conrod, K. and Brent Woo. Hydras: Split Heads and Light Heads. Poster. Linguistics Society ofAmerica 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.
  • 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.Link.
  • 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.
  • Classes I've Taught

    Course materials available on Canvas or by request.

    Introduction to Linguistic Thought

    An overview of linguistic theory and subfields, covering phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, neurolinguistics, and sociolinguistics.

    Language and Society

    An introduction to sociolinguistics with a focus on American dialects, and covering variation based on age, ethnicity, region, gender, socioeconomic class, and other sociological variables.

    Fundamentals of Grammar

    A survey of the grammar of English through a descriptivist lens, focusing on using syntactic tests to find generalizations and patterns across parts of speech and phrases.

    Syntax 1

    An introduction to generative syntax using X Bar Theory.

    Get in touch

    You can contact me through the Linguistics Department at the University of Washington.

    • Address

      Department of Linguistics
      University of Washington
      Guggenheim Hall 4th Floor, Box 352425
      Seattle, WA 98195-2425
    • CV

    • Email
    • Phone

      (206) 543-2046
    • Social