Qualifying insults, offensive epithets, slurs and expressive expletives
A relevance-theoretic approach
The category of insults comprises disparaging qualifying terms, derogatory epithets, racial/ethnic slurs and participle-like expletives. All of them channel speakers’ (negative) psychological states, so they are considered expressives. Despite the enormous interest that they have aroused, research has not duly addressed whether all types of insults communicate in the same manner, share the same nature and make a similar contribution to communication. This paper ventures some answers from a relevance-theoretic perspective. Relying on the showing-saying continuum and on the conceptual-procedural distinction, it argues that some insults merely show speaker’s meaning, others encode some conceptual load enabling them to communicate by saying and others communicate by an admixture of both. It also contends that some insults encode conceptual content and processing instructions, but others encode instructions alone. Their output, however, is complex, as it may trigger lexical-pragmatic processes adjusting the encoded conceptual load or psychological-state representations.
Keywords: insults, relevance theory, showing-saying, procedural meaning, lexical-pragmatic processes, psychological-state representations
Published online: 04 June 2019
Bayard, Donn, and Sateesh Krishnayya
Beaton, Mary E., and Hannah B. Washington
Brown, Penelope, and Stephen C. Levinson
Daly, Nicola, Janet Holmes, Jonathan Newton, and Maria Stubbe
D’Avis, Franz, and Jörg Meibauer
de Saussure, Louis
Embrick, David G.
Embrick, David G., and Kasey Henricks
Escandell-Vidal, Victoria, and Manuel Leonetti
Fasoli, Fabio, Andrea Carnaghi, and Maria P. Paladino
Fägersten, Kristy B., and Karyn Stapleton
Greenbaum, Sidney, and Randolph Quirk
Haegeman, Liliane, and Jacqueline Guéron
Hopper, Robert, Larry G. Coleman, and John A. Daly
Hughes, Susan E.
Jay, Kristin, and Timothy B. Jay
Jay, Timothy B., and Joseph H. Danks
Jay, Timothy B., and Kristin Janschewitz
Jucker, Andreas H., and Irma Taavitsainen
Kaye, Barbara K., and Barry S. Sapolsky
Mateo, José, and Francisco Yus
McCloskey, Laura A., and Lerita M. Coleman
McCloskey, Laura A., Corrine Williams, and Ulla Larsen
O’Dea, Conor J., Stuart S. Miller, Emma B. Andres, Madelyn H. Ray, Derrick F. Till, and Donald A. Saucier
Padilla Cruz, Manuel
Saucier, Donald A., Derrick F. Till, Stuart S. Miller, Conor J. O’Dea, and Emma Andres
Searle, John R.
Staley, Constance M.
Stokoe, Elizabeth, and Derek Edwards
Taavitsainen, Irma, and Andreas H. Jucker
Wilson, Deirdre, and Robyn Carston
Cited by 2 other publications
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