"Beasts in Human Form": How Dangerous Speech Harms

Teresa Marques


Recent years have seen an upsurge of inflammatory speech around the
world. Understanding the mechanisms that correlate speech with violence is
a necessary step to explore the most effective forms of counterspeech. This
paper starts with a review of the features of dangerous speech and ideology, as
formulated by Jonathan Maynard and Susan Benesch. It then offers a conceptual
framework to analyze some of the underlying linguistic mechanisms at play:
derogatory language, code words, figleaves, and meaning perversions. It gives
a hypothesis for assessing the moral responsibility of interlocutors in dangerous
speech situations. The last section applies this framework to the case of
demagogic discourse by Catalan nationalists. The framework offered explains
how public discourse in Catalonia has harmed social relations and institutions,
and is an obstacle to rational resolutions to the political situation.

Palabras clave

Dangerous speech, Code words, Slurs, Figleaves, Meaning perversions, Context update, Catalonia

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ISSN de la edición impresa: 1575-6823

ISSN digital: 2340-2199

Depósito legal: SE 235-2015

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