Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:

$34168

Still Needed:

$40832

Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington


Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: Ad Hominem and Insult
Question: Hello. Recently I was arguing with somebody over whether or not Ad Hominem is synonymous with insult since the person I was talking with used them interchangeably. My reasoning was that Ad Hominem is a fallacy meant to denote a fallacious reasoning associated with attacking a person. The person in question told me that any linguist would agree that ''semantic flexibility'' makes his use of Ad Hominem to mean 'insult' is valid. Is this true?

Are Ad Hominem and insult interchangeable?

Reply: As my colleagues have indicated, the terms are not really synonyms.

The more common usage is "ad hominem attack" and it's because a debate opponent
may attack an opponent's personal trait rather than the opponent's idea.

Some egregious, but very common examples, are attacks on an opponent's speech
pattern, social class or fashion sense.
Reply From: Elizabeth J Pyatt      click here to access email
 
Date: 21-Aug-2013
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Ad Hominem and Insult    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (20-Aug-2013)
  2. Re: Ad Hominem and Insult    James Vandenbosch     (20-Aug-2013)
  3. Re: Ad Hominem and Insult    Madalena Cruz-Ferreira     (20-Aug-2013)

Back to Most Recent Questions