A pejorative (also called a derogatory term, a slur, a term of disparagement) is a word or grammatical form expressing a negative connotation or a low opinion of someone or something, showing a lack of respect for someone or something. It is also used to express criticism, hostility, or disregard. Sometimes, a term is regarded as pejorative in some social or ethnic groups but not in others, or may be originally pejorative and eventually be adopted in a non-pejorative sense (or vice versa) in some or all contexts.
Name slurs can also involve an insulting or disparaging innuendo, rather than being a direct pejorative. In some cases, a person's name can be redefined with an unpleasant or insulting meaning, or be applied to a group of people considered by anyone to be inferior or lower in social class, as a group label with a disparaging meaning.
Definition and etymologyEdit
Linguists Christopher David and Elin McCready, writing in a 2018 paper for the University of the Ryukyus and Aoyama Gakuin University, argued that three properties make a term a slur: it must be derogatory towards a particular group, it must be used to subordinate them within some structure of power relations, and the derogated group must be defined by an intrinsic property.
When a term begins as pejorative and eventually is adopted in a non-pejorative sense, this is called "melioration" in historical linguistics. It may also be called amelioration, reclaiming, or semantic change. Some examples of melioration are "punk", "dude" and "nerd".
- "Definition of derogatory". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
- "Pejorative | Define Pejorative at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2012-04-25.
- "Slur - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 2012-04-25.
- "Pejorative (adj.)". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
- Davis, Christopher; McCready, Elin (2018-11-19). "The Instability of Slurs" (PDF). Semantics Archive. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
- Croom, Adam M. (May 2011). "Slurs". Language Sciences. 33 (3): 343–358. doi:10.1016/j.langsci.2010.11.005.[dead link]
- Croom, Adam M. "Slurs." Language Sciences, Volume 33, Number 3, May 2011, pp. 343-358. Published by Elsevier[dead link].
- Henderson, Anita. "What's in a Slur?" American Speech, Volume 78, Number 1, Spring 2003, pp. 52–74 in Project MUSE
- Croom, Adam M. "Remarks on 'The Semantics of Racial Slurs'". Lingusitic and Philosophical Investigations, 13 (1):11-32 (2014)
- Croom, Adam M. "The Semantics of Slurs: A Refutation of Pure Expressivism". Language Sciences Volume 41, Part B, January 2014, Pages 227–242.