‘Offensive’ items, and less offensive alternatives, in English monolingual learners’ dictionaries

By November 17, 2016,
Page1270-1281
AuthorStephen Coffey
Title‘Offensive’ items, and less offensive alternatives, in English monolingual learners’ dictionaries
AbstractThis paper discusses lexical items which have been labelled as ‘impolite’, ‘offensive’ or ‘rude’ in monolingual learners’ dictionaries (MLDs). Such items may be grouped into three broad categories. Firstly, there is lexis which relates to the human body and its functions (e.g. knockers, dick, to crap, to screw). Secondly, there are items which refer to people and which are potentially insulting (e.g. bitch, dago, midget, queer). Thirdly, there are words and phrases, with a variety of meanings, which have in common the fact that they make use of the potentially rude words referring to the human body. Examples are to ball something up, not to give a shit, fucking, a piss artist and work your arse off.
The precise aim of the paper is to draw attention to the fact that, wherever possible, learners should be provided with less offensive alternatives to the potentially offensive lexis. In order to assess the current situation in MLDs, a study was carried out on over 200 such lexical items in recent editions of five dictionaries. The main conclusions reached were that in many cases learners are not being provided with alternative lexis, or else that the alternatives suggested are somewhat banal in nature. It is also proposed that in some cases a contextualized example of a lexical item could be rewritten in order to show learners what a less offensive version of the example would look like.
SessionLexicological Issues of Lexicographical Relevance
Keywords
BibTex
@InProceedings{ELX10-125,
author = {Stephen Coffey},
title = {‘Offensive’ items, and less offensive alternatives, in English monolingual learners’ dictionaries},
pages = {1270-1281},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 14th EURALEX International Congress},
year = {2010},
month = {jul},
date = {6-10},
address = {Leeuwarden/Ljouwert, The Netherlands},
editor = {Anne Dykstra and Tanneke Schoonheim},
publisher = {Fryske Akademy},
isbn = {978-90-6273-850-3},
}
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