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date: 22 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Semantics and pragmatics are increasingly seen as inextricably interwoven in understanding linguistically conveyed meaning. Scholarship on gender and sexuality now mostly considers cultural and bodily/biological concerns as enmeshed, not clearly separable. Gender and sexual identities and practices are also changing. Many contexts no longer support familiar assumptions about what “goes without saying”—for example, marriage is between a woman and a man, someone pregnant must be a woman (or girl), not protesting sexual overtures constitutes consenting to them, and many more. As the landscape surrounding gender and sexuality changes, so do linguistic actions and attitudes in that landscape, constructing new contexts. Familiar labels for sexual identities and activities shift and are often contested, new labels arise for possibilities once unrecognized (sometimes non-existent), people police others’ linguistic practices and jockey for semantic authority. Semantic and pragmatic approaches to language and sexuality show indeterminacy, change, and (sometimes competing) interests of language users.

Keywords: context, semantic authority, semantics, pragmatics, gender, sexuality, indeterminacy

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