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Abstract

The norms surrounding pejorative language, such as racial slurs and swear words, are deeply prohibitive. Pejoratives are typically a means for speakers to express their derogatory attitudes. As these attitudes vary along many dimensions and magnitudes, they initially appear to be resistant to a truth-conditional, semantic analysis. The goal of the paper is to clarify the essential linguistic phenomena surrounding pejoratives, survey the logical space of explanatory theories, evaluate each with respect to the phenomena and provide a preliminary assessment of the initial resistance to a truth-conditional analysis.