IIF   26912
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
A Stereotype Semantics for Syntactically Ambiguous Slurs
Analytic Philosophy
Año: 2020 vol. 61 p. 101 - 129
This paper is about group slurs, i.e., expressions that are prima facie associated with the speaker?s conveyance of contemptuous or derogatory feelings for the members of a certain group of people identified in terms of their ethnicity (?spic?), race (?nigger?), sexual orientation (?faggot?), religion (?kike?), political ideology (?fascist?), habits or ways of living (?whore?), etc. Our purpose is two-fold: (i) explaining their expressive meaning in terms of a version of stereotype semantics, and (ii) grounding a distinction between predicative/argumental and epithetic occurrences of (some) slur-words on the different syntactic configuration of the sentences containing them. The paper has the following structure. In the first part, we put forward a version of stereotype semantics to be applied to the expressive meaning of slurs, in the general framework of a dualist or hybrid semantics. In the second part, we show that the stereotype dimension can be isolated by grammatical means, a fact that brings support to our dualist approach. After pointing to an intuitive ambiguity in certain sentences containing slurs, we argue for the grammatical source of a distinction between predicative/argumental and epithetic readings of those sentences by defending a certain grammatical approach to epithets, according to which they can be assimilated to free pronouns; then, we provide different syntactic tests for distinguishing epithetic from predicative occurrences of slur-words and introduce some lexical restrictions on epithetic occurrences. Finally, we include a section on the different kinds of uses that can be made of both predicative/argumental and epithetic occurrences; we briefly introduce a general distinction between kinds of uses, mainly, derogatory or insulting and non-derogatory or non-insulting ones: the former are characterized in terms of the presence of a derogatory intention, whereas the latter are thought to involve only a classificatory intention on the speaker?s part. In any case, speakers? intentions are considered pragmatic components and, as such, not part of the semantic dimension of slurs.An important final clarification is in order: we intend to cover not all the group slurs that are in use in the different linguistic communities but just the most paradigmatic ones, which serve to entrench the well-known racist, sexist and homophobic attitudes and practices that help to keep in place unequal social structures all over the world. We then conclude that paradigmatic slurs like the ones initially mentioned are semantically linked to evaluative stereotypes and typically (but not always) used to insult people (both belonging and not belonging to the target group).