Avoiding emotivism: a sociolinguistic approach to moral talk

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Abstract

The ways in which people use language to make moral judgements have long been the focus of debates in moral philosophy. But, despite the recent turn in socially and functionally oriented approaches to linguistics towards the study of evaluative language, little has been said within the linguistic tradition about morally evaluative language. The argument of this paper is that we can use the concept of register (as recently deployed by Agha, 2007) to explore linguistic attempts to index the activity of moral judgement – moral talk. In so doing, we might also be able to resist the reification of the idea that moral talk is a necessarily expressive, emotive, or interpersonal thing, and to view it as a multifunctional resource.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-82
Number of pages10
JournalLanguage & Communication
Volume39
Early online date18 Sep 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

Keywords

  • Moral evaluation, Indexicality, Register, Language ideology, Metapragmatics, Sociolinguistics