Slurs are arguably the most prototypical instance of hate speech: they exemplify very clearly how discourse can hurt, abuse and subordinate human beings. These epithets derogate people and groups on the basis of their belonging to a certain category. What is peculiar to these expressions is their so-called hyper-projectivity (Camp 2018: 39): their derogatory content seems to resist all kinds of semantic embedding. This often means that slurs can hurt and abuse despite the embedded position they occupy in an utterance and despite the intentions of the speaker. In light of this phenomenon, it is not surprising that the literature on slurs has taken a keen interest in standard derogatory uses. This special issue offers instead a collection of papers that focuses on how slurs can be used in non-derogatory ways. We start with providing a (non-exhaustive) survey of uses of slurs that can potentially be deemed ‘non-offensive’: we consider reported speech, fictional contexts, pedagogical utterances, and quotation.
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