Offensive Language: Taboo, Offence and Social Control (Paperback)
Why do people take offence at things that are said? What is it exactly about an offending utterance which causes this negative reaction? How well motivated is the response to the offence?Offensive Language addresses these questions by applying an array of concepts from linguistic pragmatics and sociolinguistics to a wide range of examples, from TV to Twitter and from Mel Gibson to Donald Trump. Establishing a sharp distinction between potential offence and actual offence, Jim O'Driscoll then examines a series of case studies where offence has been caused, assessing the nature and degree of both the offence and the documented response to it. Through close linguistic analysis, this book explores the fine line between free speech and criminal activity, searching for a principled way to distinguish the merely embarrassing from the reprehensible and the censurable. In this way, a new approach to offensive language emerges, involving both how we study it and how it might be handled in public life.
About the Author
Jim O'Driscoll is Senior Lecturer in English Language & Linguistics at the University of Huddersfield, UK.