More on pejorative language: insults that go beyond their extension

Synthese 198 (10):9139-9164 (2020)
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Slurs have become a big topic of discussion both in philosophy and in linguistics. Slurs are usually characterised as pejorative terms, co-extensional with other, neutral, terms referring to ethnic or social groups. However, slurs are not the only ethnic/social words with pejorative senses. Our aim in this paper is to introduce a different kind of pejoratives, which we will call “ethnic/social terms used as insults”, as exemplified in Spanish, though present in many other languages and mostly absent in English. These are ethnic terms like gitano, ‘Romani’, which can have an extensional and neutral use, but also a pejorative meaning building on a negative stereotypical representation of the Romani community.

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