A rich-lexicon theory of slurs and their uses

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (7):942-966 (2022)
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ABSTRACT In this paper, I present data involving the use of the Romanian slur ‘țigan’, consideration of which leads to the postulation of a sui-generis, irreducible type of use of slurs. This type of use is potentially problematic for extant theories of slurs. In addition, together with other well-established uses, it shows that there is more variation in the use of slurs than previously acknowledged. I explain this variation by construing slurs as polysemous. To implement this idea, I appeal to a rich-lexicon account of polysemy. I show how such a theory can be applied to slurs and discuss several important issues that arise.

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Dan Zeman
University of Warsaw


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