Caolan O'Neill

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Linguistics (2021 cohort)


I am a DPhil Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics candidate at the University of Oxford (Pembroke College). My sociolinguistic doctoral research investigates the use of feminine gender-marked forms in English to index (i.e., point to) cisgender gay male identities. To explore this phenomenon, my research examines contemporary gay men’s uses of resources such as feminine pronouns, feminine-gendered pejoratives, emojis and reaction gifs/images that depict women or are female-coded, etc., in naturally occurring speech and/or in instances of computer-mediated communication. My (primarily qualitative) research utilises a wide range of methodological and theoretical approaches, with the aim of answering the following questions: What specific kind(s) of ‘femininity’ is/are indexed through these resources? Why are these indexicalisations of femininity sometimes viewed by members of the wider ‘LGBTQIA+ community’ as offensive or problematic? Have the linguistic/communicative tools that gay men call upon to index femininity evolved over time in terms of their forms and/or functions?    

I completed my BA in English and Linguistics at Queen's University Belfast, and I hold an MPhil in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics from the University of Oxford (Pembroke College). My research at undergraduate-level won me academic awards such as the ‘Best Performance at Stage 1 Prize’ and a ‘Highly Commended Essay’ recognition from the Global Undergraduate Awards. I was also recently named a Pembroke Graduate Prize Winner for my academic performance during my MPhil course.