Claudia Bianchi

The dark side of words: Slurs and appropriation

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Slurs; Appropriation; Relevance Theory; Echoic Theory.

Slurs are derogatory terms that express or convey hate or contempt towards individuals and groups of people on the basis of race, nationality, religion, gender or sexual orientation. In my paper I propose a strategy of treatment of appropriated uses of slurs. Targeted groups may appropriate their own slurs for non-derogatory purposes, in order to demarcate the group, and show a sense of intimacy and solidarity - as in the appropriation of «nigger» by the African-American community, or the appropriation of «gay» and «queer» by the homosexual community. In my proposal appropriated uses are conceived as echoic uses, in Relevance Theory terms: in-groups echo derogatory uses in ways and contexts that make it manifest the dissociation from the offensive contents. I will show that the echoic strategy has interesting advantages over alternative theories.

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