Slurring Speech and Social Norms

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explains how social norms are changed by particular kinds of speech, notably, but not only, oppressive speech. In particular, I show how slurring speech may be instrumental in altering social norms and perpetuating harmful practices. This is based on a model of slurs recently proposed in Popa-Wyatt and Wyatt. This model says that a slur is a meta-move in a conversational game that assigns a low-power role to the target. In this essay, I show how this role assignment also has harmful social effects beyond the conversation. The model proposed is one in which the conversational game is embedded in a larger social game. Both of these games are norm-governed activities and both involve roles which index the norms that govern the interactions involving the role holder. Here I explain how these roles are related. Conversational roles are typically inherited from the social game. Conversely, role changes during the conversation can leak out into the social game, thereby changing the norms associated with the target. I consider one candidate mechanism for this norm-shift.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Social Institution of Discursive Norms
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical, Naturalistic, and Pragmatic Perspectives
EditorsLeo Townsend, Preston Stovall, Hans Bernhard Schmid
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781003047483
ISBN (Print)9780367492083
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy


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