Paving the road to hell: The Spanish word menas as a case study

Daimon: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 84:47-62 (2021)
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Menas is a term that has attracted a great deal of attention on the political scene in Spain at present. Although the term had a neutral usage originally, being an acronym for unaccompanied foreign minors, it has recently evolved into a term with clear negative connotations. This article explores what kind of term menas is today. Specifically, we will examine whether menas is a slur or an ESTI, an ethnic/social term used as an insult. First, we point out the most defining characteristics of both types of terms. Then, using analyses on linguistic corpora, we show that menas exhibits the most defining characteristics of ESTIs. We end by discussing the possible evolution of the term, pointing out that, although the term presents the features related to ESTIs, there are two possible scenarios. On the one hand, the term may retain its neutral uses and thus remain an ESTI. On the other hand, the neutral uses may disappear, and thus the term may become a slur.

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