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Understanding and appraising ‘hate speech’

Vilar-Lluch, S. ORCID: (2023) Understanding and appraising ‘hate speech’. Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, 11 (2). pp. 279-306. ISSN 2213-1280

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1075/jlac.00082.vil


Hate speech has become a matter of international concern, permeating institutional and lay discussions alike. Yet, exactly what it means to refer to a linguistic act as ‘hate speech’ remains unclear. This paper examines the lay understanding of hate speech, focusing on (1) the relationship between hate speech and hate, and (2) the relationship between hate speech and offensive speech. As part of the second question, the paper considers how hate speech is defined as a legal matter in the UK Public Order Act 1986. The study adopts a corpus-based discourse analysis approach and examines 255 hate speech-related news articles and the general English Web 2020 corpus. Hate speech is a complex multifaceted phenomenon; while ‘hate’ is one of its core characteristics, it is not sufficient to assess a certain behaviour as hate speech. Threats, denigration of the targets based on a protected characteristic (age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability), the potential to cause harm and the intent to stir up hatred are also essential in distinguishing hate speech and offense.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Humanities > Philosophy
ID Code:112120
Uncontrolled Keywords:Surfaces and Interfaces, Communication, Language and Linguistics
Publisher:John Benjamins Publishing Company

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