Language framed as derogatory names and symbols can have implications for people and their life experiences. Within a Saussurian-inspired frame, and looking at ideas of stigma and social inclusion, this paper examines the use of language as a weapon within a social context of (changing) intent and meaning. Three examples of language use in mainstream society are analysed: 'retarded' which evolved from scientific diagnosis to insult; 'gay' as a derogatory adjective within popular culture; and, the way language around suicide is used to both trivialise and stigmatise those who are suicidal, as well as those who are bereaved.
McKay, K., Wark, S., Mapedzahama, V., Dune, T., Rahman, S. & MacPhail, C. (2015). Sticks and stones: How words and language impact upon social inclusion. Journal of Social Inclusion, 6 (1), 146-162.