What's Linguistic Reappropriation

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Linguistic reappropriation is when a word is used in a negative connotation in relation to a minority. These disparaging words have been labelled informally as slurs. A slur is defined as “an insulting or disparaging remark or innuendo.” (Merriam-Webster,. n.d.) A minority party becomes oppressed through the use of these slurs because they often cause observers, not of that group, to view the minority differently often in a negative way. The view of outside parties coupled with the use of the word cause the oppressed group to have a sense of a lack of power. Power is essential to a group morale because without power, a group's will become oppressed and an individual can develop a lack of self esteem. Therefore, a member of an oppressed group will often suppress their true nature in order to avoid being persecuted. Reappropriation or "Reclaiming the Slur" is become a common practice amongst oppressed groups today, some reclaimed words include nigger (nigga), queer, dyke, slut, and bitch. However, there are instances when linguistic reappropriation can be both helpful and harmful to a minority party through the creation or removal of a groups power.

The theoretical model of reappropriation outlined by the experiments written in the article “The Reappropriation of Stigmatizing Labels: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Power and Self-Labeling” allows a better understanding of how slurs are reappropriated. The experiments conducted during the study (Galinsky, Wang, Whitson, Anicich, Hugenberg, Bodenhausen., 2013.) explain that self labeling is vital to the reappropriation of slurs. Self labelling causes the observing parties to view a certain minority as more powerful because they self labelled. The article (Galinsky et al., 2013...

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Galinsky, A. D., Wang, C. S., Whitson, J. A., Anicich, E. M., Hugenberg, K., & Bodenhausens, G. V. (2013). The Reappropriation of Stigmatizing Labels: The Reciprocal Relationship Between Power

and Self-Labeling. Psychological Science (Sage Publications Inc.), 24(10), 2020-2029. Retrieved from SPORTDiscus with Full Text, Ipswich, MA. Accessed November 14, 2013.

Gringo. (n.d). In Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved November 22, 2013 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gringo

Schwartz, A. (2008). Their language, our Spanish: Introducing public discourses of ‘Gringoism’ as racializing linguistic and cultural reappropriation. Spanish In Context, 5(2), 224-245. Retrieved from


Slur. [Def. 1]. (n.d). In Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved November 22, 2013 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/slur
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