Seminar on Language and Communication - Eleonora Orlando, 'Group slurs...' // Stefano Predelli, 'A stranger...'

Seminar on Language and Communication

Institute for Logic, Cognition, Language and Information (ILCLI)


Friday, February 1st, 2019

Venue: Carlos Santamaria Zentroa, Room A1.

{3:00 pm}

Group slurs, stereotypes and derogative speech acts

Eleonora Orlando (Universidad de Buenos Aires)


The talk will be about paradigmatic group slur-words, i.e., expressions that are prima facie associated with the expression of a contemptuous attitude concerning a certain group of people identified in terms of its origin or descent, race, sexual orientation, religion, habits or ways of living, etc. My purpose is twofold: (i) explaining their expressive meaning dimension in terms of a version of stereotype semantics; (ii) analysing their most common, derogatory uses in terms of a speech act theory. With regard to the first objective, I will suggest that their expressive meaning can be conceived of as a socially determined normative stereotype, namely, a complex concept constituted by an open list of descriptive, thick and purely evaluative ones, with an encoded negative global value. As for the second objective, I will argue that their most common, derogatory uses involve a derogatory intention, namely, the kind of communicative intention characteristic of a sub-kind of speech acts with derogative force. This expressive component is thus pragmatic, that is, not part of their conventional meaning. In sum, I will conclude that paradigmatic slur-words, semantically linked to normative stereotypes, are typically used to make derogative speech acts.


{5:00 pm}

A Stranger in the Alps: Slurs, Register, and Taboo

Stefano Predelli (University of Nottingham)

I discuss the relationships between two distinct dimensions in the use of charged terms, such as slurs or coarse expressions: their standard (non-truth-conditional) meaning, responsible for effects such as derogation or denigration, and their status as taboo words. My test cases involve euphemisms or codes, which arguably aim at preserving effects of the former type while avoiding the tokening of taboo forms. I contrast classic non-displacement tests with resistance to displacement by pure quotation, and I pause on the significance of taboo for the interface between syntax and semantics.

(Attendance is free, but it should be notified in advance to zvonko.diaz@ehu.eus)