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Linguistic discrimination

DOI
10.4324/9780415249126-U015-1
DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-U015-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 23, 2019, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/linguistic-discrimination/v-1

Article Summary

‘Linguistic discrimination’ is a redundancy. Discriminating is at the heart of what languages do. The question, of course, is when they can be said to do it invidiously, or rather when we, in our use of language, can be said to be discriminating invidiously. In Aristotelian terms, the proper use of linguistic discriminations is to make the right sort and number of discriminations in the right ways and at the right times – that is, not to discriminate between those things that, for the legitimate purposes at hand, ought to be seen as the same; to discriminate between those things that, for the legitimate purposes at hand, ought to be seen as different; and to discriminate in ways that advance legitimate and not illegitimate purposes. Disputes about what constitutes linguistic discrimination (in the invidious sense) revolve around both the legitimacy of our purposes and, in the light of those purposes, the aptness of particular discriminations. Such disputes presume both that our language shapes our actions (that linguistic discrimination plays a role in maintaining unjust inequalities) and that our actions can shape our language (that acknowledging such discrimination can and should lead to linguistic change).

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Citing this article:
Scheman, Naomi. Linguistic discrimination, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-U015-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/linguistic-discrimination/v-1.
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