Towards a cross-cultural pragmatic taxonomy of insults
The aim of this paper is to explain the use of insults from a relevance-theoretic perspective. To that end, our analysis takes into consideration four variables that, we believe, play a major role in how insults are produced an interpreted: (a) the conventional or innovative nature of the insult; (b) the underlying intentionality (to offend, to praise or to establish/maintain social bonding; (c) the in/correct interpretation of the insult, and (d) the addressee’s reaction or lack thereof. The combination of these variables generates a twenty four case taxonomy that can account for and describe the use of insults in any given (cross)-cultural context. The proposed taxonomy will be here described and exemplified.
Keywords: relevance theory, intentionality, insults, cognitive effects, cross-cultural, offence, inference, social bonding, phatic communication, misunderstanding, praise
Published online: 28 June 2013
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