A puzzle about pejoratives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pejoratives are the class of expressions that are meant to insult or disparage. They include swear words and slurs. These words allow speakers to convey emotional states beyond the truth-conditional contents that they are normally taken to encode. The puzzle arises because, although pejoratives seem to be a semantically unified class, some of their occurrences are best accounted for truth-conditionally, while others are best accounted for non-truth-conditionally. Where current, non-truth-conditional, views in the literature fail to provide a unified solution for the puzzle, this paper motivates a novel, semantic, analysis of pejorative language. The significance of the proposed solution is not only linguistic in nature, but also philosophical, as it both provides a new argument for, and sheds further light on, the nature of semantic externalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-405
Number of pages23
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Volume159
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2012

Keywords

  • Expressive language
  • Pejoratives
  • Philosophy of language
  • Pragmatics
  • Semantics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A puzzle about pejoratives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this