A multi-act perspective on slurs
This paper proposes a semantic interpretation of slurs based on a multi-speech act theory. According to this perspective, when a speaker utters a sentence containing a slur, he or she performs two different speech acts, one of which, following Searle’s taxonomy, is an expressive one. Therefore, slurs have two semantic components, the first being identical with the intension and extension of the corresponding neutral term. The second is an expressive speech act by means of which the speaker expresses derogation and denigration towards the class of individuals designated by the neutral component. This interpretation is in line with those theories which regard slurs as having a mixed semantics. However, unlike these theories, in this proposal slurs are not regarded as a type of conventional implicature.