Dr. Brian W. King is a critical sociolinguist who researches the discursive performance of identities and embodiments at the intersection of ethnicity, gender and sexuality. His work on these themes sits within sexuality education, healthcare communication, computer-mediated communication, and the social construction of space/place. Methodologically he draws on a number of traditions, including interactional sociolinguistics, corpus linguistics, linguistic anthropology, and critical discourse studies. Brian leads the Communicating Sex Variation Research Cluster (CSV) in the Research and Impact Initiative on Communication in Healthcare (RIICH) an interdisciplinary, international collaboration housed in HKU's Faculty of Arts ( He is a member of the board of trustees of Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand (ITANZ), which strives to advocate dignity, diversity and choice for people born with intersex traits ( Additionally, he is on the Editorial Board of Gender & Language journal and the Journal of Language and Sexuality, and is the Reviews Editor for the journal Language in Society. His teaching career has spanned more than 20 years across three continents and multiple sectors, with time spent teaching in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Korea, and Canada. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in recognition of attainment against the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and learning support in higher education.


Courses offered in 2019-2020

CCHU9032       Language, institution and power
ENGL2039       Gender, sexuality and discourse
LCOM3005      Internship in language & communication



Research Grants


  • Language use and the intersex body: Communicating sex variations in multilingual Hong Kong. Hong Kong Research Grants Council General Research Fund. (PI, HKD$450,000, 2020-2023)



  • Language use in academic research on intersex/DSD: A corpus-based study. Seed Fund for Basic Research for New Staff, University of Hong Kong. (PI, HKD 150,000)




2019. Communities of Practice in Language Research. London: Routledge.

2019. Language and embodied sexuality. In K. Hall and R. Barrett (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of Language and Sexuality. New York: Oxford University Press.

2018. Hip Hop headz in sex ed: Gender, agency and styling in New Zealand. Language in Society 47(4).

2017. Language, sexuality and place: The view from cyberspace. In T. M. Milani (Ed.), Queering Language, Gender and Sexuality (pp. 256-280). New York: Equinox.

2017. Communities of practice. In B. Vine (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Language in the Workplace (pp. 101-111). New York: Routledge.

2017. Querying heteronormativity among transnational Pasifika teenagers in New Zealand: An Oceanic approach to language and masculinity. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 21(3), 442-464.

2017. Gender and sociopragmatics. In A. Barron, Y. Gu, & G. Steen (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Pragmatics (pp. 121-138). London: Routledge.  (with Janet Holmes)

2017. Traversing the erotic oasis: Online chatting and the space/time continuum. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 16(3), 475-499.

2016. Becoming the intelligible other: speaking intersex bodies against the grain. Critical Discourse Studies, 13(4), 359-378.

2016. Language education, gender, and sexuality. In T. McCarty, & S. May (Eds.), Language policy and political issues in education (3rd ed., pp. 85-97). (Encyclopedia of language and education). New York: Springer. (with Benedict Rowlett)

2015. Wikipedia writing as praxis: Computer-mediated socialization of second-language writers. Language Learning and Technology, 19(3), 106-123.

2015. Online writing as a discovery process: Synchronous collaboration. In M. Pennington, T. Costley, & A. Chick (Eds.), Creativity and Discovery in the University Writing Class (pp. 321-345). New York: Equinox.

2015. Language and sexuality in education. In Patricia Whelehan, & Anne Bolin (Eds.), The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality (pp. 649-719). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

2015. Investigating digital sex talk practices: A reflection on corpus-assisted discourse analysis. In Rodney H. Jones, Alice Chik, & Christoph A. Hafner (Eds.), Discourse and Digital Practices: Doing Discourse Analysis in the Digital Age (pp. 130-143). London: Routledge.

2014. Reclaiming masculinity in an account of lived intersex experience: Language, desire, and embodied knowledge. In T. M. Milani (Ed.), Language and Masculinities: Performances, Intersections, Dislocations (pp. 220-242). London: Routledge.

2014. Gender and pragmatics. In Carol A. Chapelle (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics New York: John Wiley & Sons. (with Janet Holmes)

2014. Inverting virginity, abstinence, and conquest: Sexual agency and subjectivity in classroom conversation. Sexualities, 17(3), 310-328.

2014. Tracing the emergence of a community of practice: Beyond presupposition in sociolinguistic research. Language in Society, 43(1), 61-81.

2014. Trivial, mundane or revealing? Food as a lens on ethnic norms in workplace talk. Language and Communication, 34(1), 46-55. (with Meredith Marra and Janet Holmes)

2013. How permeable is the formal-informal boundary at work? An ethnographic account of the role of food in workplace discourse. In C. Gerhardt, M. Frobenius, & S. Ley (Eds.), Culinary Linguistics: The Chef's Special (pp. 191-209). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing (with Janet Holmes and Meredith Marra)

2012. Location, Iore and language: An erotic triangle. Journal of Language and Sexuality, 1(1), 106-125.

2011. Language, sexuality and place: The view from cyberspace. Gender and Language, 5(1), 1-30.

2010. “All us girls were like euuh!”: Conversational work of be like in New Zealand adolescent talk. New Zealand English Journal, 24(1), 17-36.

2009. Building and analysing corpora of computer-mediated communication. In P. Baker (Ed.), Contemporary Corpus Linguistics (pp. 301-320). London: Continuum.

2008. “Being gay guy, that is the advantage”: Queer Korean language learning and identity construction. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 7(3-4), 230-252.



PhD/MPhil Studentship in Sociolinguistics/Language and Health Communication at University of Hong Kong

Available: Starting date 1st September 2020
Application deadline 31st October 2019

The School of English ( at the University of Hong Kong is offering a PhD/MPhil Studentship in Sociolinguistics/Language and Health Communication. The School’s vibrant research culture and the rapidly expanding cohort of full-time research students from many countries provides a stimulating intellectual environment.

The successful candidate will be expected to start in September 2020, to coincide with Dr. Brian King’s larger research project, “Language use and the intersex body: Communicating sex variations in multilingual Hong Kong”.

Candidates must have a suitable degree in a relevant subject area, and proficiency in Chinese reading, preferably those who can speak Cantonese. A condition of the award is that the candidate must work on Dr. King’s project, completing work for the principal investigator in addition to their own PhD/MPhil project work on a related topic (see below).

The following research questions will be addressed in the broader interview-based project:

  1. What discourse and rhetorical framings do people with intersex traits, laypeople, and health care professionals in Hong Kong deploy to report their use of the language available to them in English and Cantonese for referring to intersex/ disorders of sex development (DSD)?
  2. How do they ‘speak back to’ or ‘trouble’ language via metapragmatic evaluations of the use and interpretation of terminology in the contexts most relevant to them?
  3. What ideologies are revealed and/or espoused during such metapragmatic talk about intersex/DSD among all participants in the study?

Secondary data will also be collected, including a range of activist and medical-organization
documents (such as information brochures, standardized letters sent to parents of children with intersex traits, and counseling protocols for parents of children with intersex traits). In addition, mediatized data (print and broadcast media, online, etc) will form an important aspect of the database and could constitute an ancillary thesis research topic for the RPg student on “Mediatization of intersex in Hong Kong”. These data will also be analyzed according to the research questions guiding this study, with a focus on the language used in the documents.

If you have a first degree from a university where the language of teaching and examination is not English, you must have obtained a score of 550 or above in the TOEFL (Test of English as Foreign Language) and a score of 4 or above in the TWE (Test of Written English). We also accept the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) but you must have at least a score of 7 with no subtest lower than 5.5. You will be expected to have a good academic reference.

To apply, please email your CV, a 2-3000-word research proposal, and your proof of English score (if applicable) to Brian W. King ( by 31st October 2019. To speed up the process, please ask your referee to send one reference letter by email directly and confidentially to Dr. King by the same deadline. The successful candidate will be invited to apply by 1st December 2019 for a 3-year full-time PhD programme (who should already hold a research master’s degree (e.g., MPhil) for admission to a 3-year PhD programme), or a 2-year full-time MPhil programme, offered by the University of Hong Kong. The University of Hong Kong will provide financial support to the successful candidate. For details, please refer to the University webpage at

General information about research postgraduate applications is available here:  
Graduate School, The University of Hong Kong:
Faculty of Arts, The University of Hong Kong:

Brian W. King, Assistant Professor in English Language, School of English, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong Tel: +852 3917-2749; Fax: +852 2559-7139
Room 8.48, 8th Floor, Run Run Shaw Tower
Director, CSV (Communicating Sex Variation Research Cluster):

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics, Healthcare Communication

July 31, 2019



Last updated: 14 October 2019