A central discipline within linguistics is language description, which in many cases is carried out by white, Western researchers doing fieldwork on languages that are not spoken in the West. It is no secret that this tradition has its roots partly in European colonization and partly in Christian missionary work. Many language descriptions have thus been motivated by the wish to describe and map out the cultures and areas that the Europeans colonized, and furthermore, language descriptions have acted as foundations for translations of the Bible in connection with Christian missionary work. Much of modern linguistics is built on the works of this tradition, but despite this, it has not has not confronted its colonial past as a scientific discipline. … ↪
Can language cause harm? Can a speech act be an act of violence? These are important questions – especially in times when citing the right to freedom of expression is used as a way to legitimize hate speech. This is a tactic employed by people like the Danish right-wing politician Rasmus Paludan (henceforth RP), who uses ‘freedom of speech’ as a shield to say very negative things about Muslims (among others). It is always interesting to expand your linguistic horizons, so in this blog post I will attempt to examine hate speech and linguistic violence with insights from affect theory and philosophy.
To understand how language can be violence, let us begin by considering professor and philosopher Judith … ↪