Sociolinguistic variation, slurs, and speech acts

Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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In this paper, I argue that the ‘social meanings’ associated with sociolinguistic variation put pressure on the standard philosophical conception of language, according to which the foremost thing we do with words is exchange information. Drawing on parallels with the explanatory challenge posed by slurs and pejoratives, I argue that the best way to understand social meanings is to think of them in speech act theoretic terms. I develop a distinctive form of pluralism about the performances realized by means of sociolinguistic variants, and I claim that engagement with such performances is an utterly pervasive feature of our linguistic activity.



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Ethan Nowak
Umeå University

Citations of this work

Talking About: A Response to Bowker, Keiser, Michaelson.Elmar Unnsteinsson - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.

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References found in this work

How to do things with words.John Langshaw Austin - 1962 - Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon Press. Edited by Marina Sbisá & J. O. Urmson.
Semantics in generative grammar.Irene Heim & Angelika Kratzer - 1998 - Malden, MA: Blackwell. Edited by Angelika Kratzer.

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