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contempt - connotation - derogatory - disparaging - language - negative - slur - term of abuse


A word or phrase is pejorative if it expresses contempt or disapproval about the thing or person described. Most pejorative expressions may also be used in a non-pejorative way, however, and (as with any implied meaning) determining the intent of the speaker is problematic.

Although pejorative means the same thing as disparaging, the latter term may be applied to a look or gesture as well as to words and phrases.

Sometimes a term may begin as a pejorative word and eventually grow to have a non-pejorative sense. This happened with the terms Yankee and Ham radio operator, which changed from being slang insults to being worn with pride. In other cases, some groups have attempted to reclaim formerly offensive words applied against them, with limited success: In many cases, usage of a term like nigger, redneck, dyke, queer, faggot, tranny, Kraut, or cripple by someone outside the group is still considered pejorative (and thus offensive).

Conversely, a neutral (non-pejorative) term may grow to become pejorative: The term retarded, to refer to a person whose mental capacity is permanently weak, was originally used as a euphemism to avoid the pejorative senses of words like moronic, feebleminded, and half-witted. But it quickly grew to have a pejorative sense of its own. (It is worth noting that, in its own time, moron was a euphemism for the pejorative word idiot.) This same progression, from neutral to pejorative, may be happening with the words challenged and special, used in the same sense, today. Language writer Steven Pinker has called this process "the euphemism treadmill."

Since meanings change over time, consult an up-to-date dictionary for information on specific words. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pejorative [Aug 2004]

Positive Ontology vs Negative Ontology [...]

Why have I moved the matter towards a discussion of the content of the Vedantic self in relation to the no-self thesis of Buddhism? I have done so in view of the alleged dichotomy between the two systems of thought described in terms of positive ontology (Vedanta) and negative ontology (Buddhism). Vedanta is metaphysically Being-oriented, specifically the Being of Atman or the true individual self, which is ultimately identical with Brahman or the Absolute Reality. Buddhism is metaphysically oriented to Nothingness or Emptiness, known as Sunyata, so much so that Absolute Reality is identified with Absolute Nothingness. What I wonder is whether there can really be any substantive difference of specific content between a metaphysic of Being and a metaphysic of Nothingness, when both systems subscribe to an ultimate reality conceived in equally metaphysically absolutist terms. The metaphysical "sphere" of absolute Being may coincide with that of absolute Nothingness, and there may not be "internal" content-specific difference between the two. --Bijoy H. Boruah, Professor of Philosophy, http://www.katinkahesselink.net/tibet/atmsun.htm, accessed May 2004

All Determination Is Negation

Tastes (i.e., manifested preferences) are the practical affirmation of an inevitable difference. It is no accident that, when they have to be justified, they are asserted purely negatively, by the refusal of other tastes. In matters of taste, more than anywhere else, all determination is negation, and tastes are perhaps first and foremost distastes, disgust provoked by horror or visceral intolerance (‘sick-making’) of the tastes of others … Aesthetic intolerance can be terribly violent. Aversion to different life-styles is perhaps one of the strongest barriers between the classes… (Bourdieu 1984: 56)

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