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MSU to host virtual guest lecture by linguistics professor on gender and pronouns

Dr. Lauren AkermanDr. Lauren Ackerman, experimental linguistics lab manager in the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, United Kingdom, will hold a virtual presentation Thursday, Dec. 2, at 4 p.m.  

The presentation, "The Influence of Gender Nonconformity on Pronoun Comprehension," will explore the singular use of "they" in contemporary speech and how it has an impact on MSU and the surrounding community. More specifically, it affects the transgender community within and beyond MSU, which has come to rely on the singular "they" to express gender identity, transitioning and fluidity.  

"Some languages, like English, have pronouns that specify the gender of the person being referred to, which can cause confusion or upset when the gender of the pronoun and the person are misaligned," said Dr. Sylvia Henneberg, interim associate dean of the School of English, Communication, Media and Languages and professor of English. "This talk will touch on pronouns as a syntactic and social phenomenon, then describe how experimental methods from psychology and linguistics can tell us about what is actually happening when someone encounters a pronoun with unexpected properties."  

To join the discussion, visit For more information, contact Henneberg at or call 606-783-9300.  

The event is co-sponsored by the MSU Gender Studies program, the Department of English and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.   

To explore programs in MSU's Caudill College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, visit, email or call 606-783-2650.