LGBT linguistics

LGBT linguistics is the study of language revolving around people identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). Related or synonymous terms include lavender linguistics, advanced by William Leap in the 1990s, which "encompass[es] a wide range of everyday language practices" in LGBT communities,[1] and queer linguistics, which more specifically refers to linguistics overtly concerned with exposing heteronormativity.[2] The former term derives from the longtime association of the color lavender with LGBT communities.[1] "Language", in this context, may refer to any aspect of spoken or written linguistic practices, including speech patterns and pronunciation, use of certain vocabulary, and, in a few cases, an elaborate alternative lexicon such as Polari.


Early studies in the field of LGBT linguistics were dominated by the concept of distinct "lavender lexicons" such as that recorded by Gershon Legman in 1941.[3][4] In 1995 William Leap, whose work incorporates LGBTQ culture studies, cultural theory, and linguistics, called for scholarship to move toward a fuller and more nuanced study of LGBTQ language use.[5] Anna Livia and Kira Hall have noted that while research in the 1960s and 1970s on the difference between men's and women's speech made the implicit assumption that gender was the relevant way to divide the social space, there is still considerable room for linguistic research based on sexual orientation, rather than gender.[6]