LINGUIST List 32.454

Fri Feb 05 2021

Books: Offensive Language: O’Driscoll

Editor for this issue: Billy Dickson <>

Date: 29-Jan-2021
From: Khadija Ahmed <>
Subject: Offensive Language: O’Driscoll
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Title: Offensive Language
Subtitle: Taboo, Offence and Social Control
Published: 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (formerly The Continuum International Publishing Group)

Book URL:

Author: Jim O’Driscoll
Electronic: ISBN: 9781350169692 Pages: 216 Price: U.K. £ 85.50
Electronic: ISBN: 9781350169685 Pages: 216 Price: U.K. £ 85.50
Hardback: ISBN: 9781350169678 Pages: 216 Price: U.K. £ 95.00

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.

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics

Written In: English (eng)

See this book announcement on our website:

Page Updated: 05-Feb-2021