Abstract

This article aims to advance a theory of the semantic status of ethnic epithets able to account for their use in acts of verbal aggression. The starting point of the analysis is the use in discourse of the epithet "Zigeuner", which identifies mainly the traditional “nomadic” Roma and Sinti people in a derogatory way. In this paper, the current approaches to the topic ethnophaulism, and slur in general, are considered and some of their drawbacks are illustrated. A solution based on the speech-act theory is then advanced. On this view, by uttering e.g. "Zigeuner" in a declarative sentence, a speaker performs two different speech acts: a representative one corresponding to that performed by means of the sentence containing the neutral counterpart of “Zigeuner” (i.e. member of the Roma or Sinti people) and an expressive one, by which the speaker expresses her/his contempt toward Roma and Sinti people. This approach explains why the uttering of a sentence containing an ethnic slur always conveys a derogatory content (apart from their “appropriated” use in certain contexts), independently of the sets of stereotypes, (negative) images, emotions or prejudices a speaker can associate to them over time. The defended theory is thus in line with those which consider the connotative meaning of ethnic epithets as semantically expressed and part of the linguistic meaning.
Titolo tradotto del contributo[Autom. eng. transl.] On the multi-act semantics of ethnophaulisms
Lingua originaleGerman
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteVerbale Aggression. Multidisziplinäre Zugänge zur verletzenden Macht der Sprache
Pagine245-267
Numero di pagine23
DOI
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2017

Keywords

  • Ethnophaulismen
  • Semantik
  • Sprechakttheorie
  • aggressive utterances
  • semantics
  • slurs
  • speech act theory
  • verbale Aggression

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