LingLunch : Gerhard Schaden

Jeudi 22 Février 2024, 12:00 to 13:00
Karen De Clercq et Ira Noveck (LLF)

LLF – Bât. ODG – 5e étage – Salle du conseil (533)

Gerhard Schaden (U. de Lille & STL / en delegation au LLF)
Building the Euphemism Treadmill, and Setting it in Motion

 There is a rich literature on the grammar and behavior of social meaning. However, there has not been much research into the questions of

  • how linguistic expressions acquire social meaning in the first place; and
  • how linguistic expressions with social meanings may change over time.

One of the few phenomena discussed in this area is Pinker's *Euphemism Treadmill*.  Unfortunately, his description is very brief. The aim of this talk is to try to to build a formal model of one possible version of the euphemism treadmill, and in doing so, to delimit ranges of possible answers to the two questions raised above. I aim for an account that can integrate with the existing literature on the synchronic behavior of expressions with social meaning. Special attention will be paid to how speaker attitudes towards concepts and other speakers might be reflected in these speaker's language use, and ultimately, grammar.