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date: 20 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

What makes something an insult? There are various ways of insulting someone. We can insult directly or indirectly, via omission or commission, verbally or non-verbally, or with explicitly marked expressions or seemingly mundane language. What, if anything, ties all of these instances together under the banner of insult? And how does insult work? In this chapter, the concept of ‘insult’ is explored, offering a characterization of it as a mechanism that undermines reasonable expectations of respect. Attention is then turned to linguistic insults to investigate how they work, drawing on insights from Ernest Lepore and Matthew Stone. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how slur terms fit, raising and responding to possible objections to the account of their discursive role.

Keywords: insult, slurs, respect, imaginative engagement, speech act, figurative language

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