Slurs in Ordinary Language: Their Properties and Developments

Lin Tang


Slurs are derogatory and offensive linguistic expressions that pose difficulties in the study of names in philosophy of language. Their dual nature as descriptive and expressive has piqued the interest of philosophers working in this field. Philosophers of language, primarily centered on Williamson, have debated the properties, origins, interpretation of slurs, and their implications on philosophical topics such as non-truth-conditional meaning, the semantics-pragmatics interface, and the interplay between descriptiveness and expressiveness. This paper first defines slurs and describes their associated properties before delving into their sources, mechanisms, and functions, with the goal of elucidating current slur developments and providing references for future research on slur phenomena in Eastern Asia.

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