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27 marzo 2018: Bianca Cepollaro: When is it OK to refer to people as “bastards”?

Chiara Fumai, Untitled Legion, particolare

Workplace Studies Research Group: sites.unimi.it/workplacestudies

Seminar 2018-2019: "Language and Society"

Bianca Cepollaro - Università degli Studi di Milano

When is it OK to refer to people as “bastards”?

(joint work with Filippo Domaneschi and Isidora Stojanovic)

27 marzo 2019, ore 12:30-14:30.

Sala Enzo Paci, Direzione del Dipartimento di Filosofia, Via Festa del Perdono, 7

Do pejoratives like ‘that jerk’ impose constraints on the context? In this study we address on empirical grounds the question as to under which condition the use of pejorative expressives is deemed acceptable. By comparing pejoratives (‘jerk’) and non-pejoratives (‘librarian’), we found that the availability of the relevant contextual information (viz. that someone deserves to be held in low opinion for pejoratives, or that they have a certain property for non-pejoratives) has an impact on the acceptability of pejoratives to a much greater extent than in the case of non-pejoratives. Moreover, our study distinguishes between the constraint imposed by complex demonstratives featuring expressives (e.g. ‘that jerk’) and that of expressives in the predicative position (e.g. ‘is a jerk’).

Our study - together with a follow-up - shows that the contextual constraints imposed by pejorative expressives are not the effect of a general phenomenon for which it is not acceptable in general to say something negative about a subject without there being any supporting reason, nor the effect of a taboo, but ultimately depend on it being an expressive term.


Participation is strongly recommended to students of the Doctoral School in Philosophy and Human Sciences.
Everyone interested is welcome to attend.

Organization: prof. Giampiero Gobo and prof. Alessandro Zucchi.

27 marzo 2019
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