Volume 5, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2213-1272
  • E-ISSN: 2213-1280
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


This paper takes up the question of definitions in general and definitions as related to research on language and conflict in particular. I anchor my discussion in the proceedings of the panel ‘Researching and Understanding the Language of Aggression and Conflict’ held at the recent IPrA conference (Antwerp, July 2015). However, I also refer to a selection of articles in the and books on language and conflict. I point to the fact that disagreements about what words such as ‘conflict’’, ‘aggression’, and ‘hate’ mean often lead to unrewarding debates. I trace such disagreements to the philosophical commitments that researchers make (consciously or subliminally). Subsequently, I argue against the essentialist philosophical position, which encourages seeking one satisfactory definition of any concept/term/word. As an alternative, I try to promote a non-essentialist position that encourages us to proceed only with working definitions. Moreover, I advocate working definitions that relate to objects and activities that are as tangible as possible. This way we can avoid unrewarding disputes and contribute to making our research more meaningful and convincing.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Ardington, Angela
    2013 “Negotiating Shared Perspectives that Move in and out of Sociability. Play and Aggression in Technologically Mediated Communication.” Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict1(2):165–193. doi: 10.1075/jlac.1.2.03ard
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlac.1.2.03ard [Google Scholar]
  2. Bealer, George
    1987 “The Philosophical Limits of Scientific Essentialism.” Philosophical Perspectives1:289–365. doi: 10.2307/2214149
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2214149 [Google Scholar]
  3. Escobar, Arturo
    1999 “After Nature. Steps to an Anti-essentialist Political Ecology”. Current Anthropology40(1):1–30. doi: 10.1086/515799
    https://doi.org/10.1086/515799 [Google Scholar]
  4. Evans, Matthew , and Simone Schuller
    2015 “Representing ‘Terrorism’. The Radicalization of the May 2013 Woolwich Attack in British Press Reportage.” Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict3(1):128–150. doi: 10.1075/jlac.3.1.06eva
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlac.3.1.06eva [Google Scholar]
  5. Evans, Vivian , and Melanie Green
    2006Cognitive Linguistics. An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Fine, Kit
    1994 “Essence and Modality. The Second Philosophical Perspective Lecture.” Philosophical Perspectives8:1–16. doi: 10.2307/2214160
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2214160 [Google Scholar]
  7. Hallett, Garth. L.
    1991Essentialism: A Wittgensteinian Critique. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Hamelink, Cees J.
    2011Media and Conflict: Escalating Evil. London: Paradigm Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Hardaker, Claire
    2013 “Uh…Not to be Nitpicky,,,,,but…the Past Tense of Drag is Dragged, not Drug.” Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict1(1):58–86. doi: 10.1075/jlac.1.1.04har
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlac.1.1.04har [Google Scholar]
  10. Janicki, Karol
    2006Language Misconceived. Arguing for Applied Cognitive Sociolinguistics. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Janicki. Karol
    2010Confusing Discourse. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9780230250925
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230250925 [Google Scholar]
  12. Janicki, Karol
    2015Language and Conflict. London: Palgrave Macmillan Education. doi: 10.1007/978‑1‑137‑38141‑5
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-137-38141-5 [Google Scholar]
  13. Kádár, Dániel Z.
    2014 “Heckling – a Mimetic-interpersonal Perspective.” Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict2(1):1–35. doi: 10.1075/jlac.2.1.01kad
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlac.2.1.01kad [Google Scholar]
  14. Kampf, Zohar
    2015 “The Politics of Being Insulted. The Uses of Hurt Feelings in Israeli Public Discourse.” Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict3(1):107–127. doi: 10.1075/jlac.3.1.05kam
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlac.3.1.05kam [Google Scholar]
  15. Lakoff, George
    1982Categories and Cognitive Models. LAUT (Series A, No.96)
    [Google Scholar]
  16. 1987Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. doi: 10.7208/chicago/9780226471013.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226471013.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  17. La Porte, Joseph
    1997 “Essential Membership.” Philosophy of Science64(1): 96–112. doi: 10.1086/392537
    https://doi.org/10.1086/392537 [Google Scholar]
  18. Maitra, Ishani , and Mary Kate McGowan
    2012 “Introduction and Overview”. InSpeech and Harm: Controversies over Free Speech, edited by Ishami Maitra , and Mary Kate McGowan , 1–23. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199236282.003.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199236282.003.0001 [Google Scholar]
  19. Meibauer, Jörg
    2014 “Bald-faced Lies as Acts of Verbal Aggression.” Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict2(1):127–150. doi: 10.1075/jlac.2.1.05mei
    https://doi.org/10.1075/jlac.2.1.05mei [Google Scholar]
  20. (The) New Oxford American Dictionary
    (The) New Oxford American Dictionary 2005 Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  21. Popper, Karl
    1945The Open Society and Its Enemies. Volume2. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. 1979Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Approach. Revised edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Rorty, Richard
    1999Philosophy and Social Hope. London: Penguin Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Rosch, Eleanor
    1978 “Principles of Categorization”. InCognition and Categorization, edited by Eleonor Rosch and Barbara Lloyd , 28–46. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Taylor, John R.
    2003 Third edition. Linguistic Categorization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Teller, Paul
    1975 “Essential Properties. Some Problems and Conjectures.” The Journal of Philosophy72(9):233–248. doi: 10.2307/2024895
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2024895 [Google Scholar]
  27. Ungerer, Friedrich , and Hans-Jörg Schmid
    2006 Second edition. An Introduction to Cognitive Linguistics. London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Waldron, Jeremy
    2012The Harm in Hate Speech. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. doi: 10.4159/harvard.9780674065086
    https://doi.org/10.4159/harvard.9780674065086 [Google Scholar]
  29. Wittgenstein, Ludwig
    1958Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): aggression; conflict; definitions; essentialism; meaning
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error