Slurs and expletives: a case against a general account of expressive meaning

Blakemore, DL 2015, 'Slurs and expletives: a case against a general account of expressive meaning' , Language Sciences, 52 , pp. 22-35.

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Abstract

This paper argues against the case for treating slurs alongside expletives in a general account of expressive meaning (cf Hedger, 2102, 13; Kaplan, 1997; Richard, 2008). Working within a relevance theoretic account of communication (. Sperber and Wilson, 1986/95), it argues that expletives (e.g. damn) have no descriptive content and pattern with smiles, gestures and tone of voice which are used to trigger procedures for the identification of emotional states. In contrast, slurs have descriptive content - content which provides a means of identifying the group of individuals they are used to target. However, (contra Hom, 2008) the offensive attitude a slur communicates is not part of its encoded content, but is derived from the meta-linguistic knowledge that the word is an offensive means of predicating and referring. This knowledge raises an expectation of relevance which is satisfied only if the hearer attributes the hearer with an indeterminate range of assumptions from the cultural stereotype which his use of the word evokes.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: Language Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0388-0001
Depositing User: WM Taylor
Date Deposited: 19 Oct 2016 10:19
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 10:19
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/40385

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