Date: Fri, 26 Aug 1994 18:45:59 EDT


Subject: Racist terms

Of course, it is the pragmatic facts of who, where, why, and how that

normally determine if a term is used as a racial insult, but I wonder if this

doesn't still leave the matter pretty much up in the air, linguistically

speaking. With the advent of speech codes and anti-hate ordinances, when

to use any expression that is perceived to be racially pejorative can

cause a fuss, if not judicial action, what do linguists have to contribute

to those who would endeavor to formulate a strict and usable legal defini-

tion of "racist term"? Several ADSers deal regularly with language and law

issues, so what would linguists have to say here--only that it depends

on the context??

Michael Montgomery, Dept of English, U of S Carolina, Columbia SC 29208