The Language of Ethnic Conflict in English Online Lexicography: Ethnophaulisms in "powered by Oxford" Lexico.com
AbstractThis article aims to explore the relationship between the language of ethnic conflict (Allen 1983; Palmore 1962) and English online lexicography in the present cultural moment. Given the influence of the Internet on dictionary consulting (Béjoint 2016; Jackson 2017) and the alarming increase of racism and xenophobia, especially online, at the global level in this digital age (see Gagliardone et al. 2015), this article presents a pilot study examining the treatment of "ethnophaulisms" (Roback 1944), commonly referred to as ethnic or racial slurs, in the "powered by Oxford" dictionary content, which is licensed for use to technology giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple by Oxford University Press (Ferrett and Dollinger 2021; Pettini 2021). In particular, the analysis focuses on the online edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English, as hosted on the "powered by Oxford" Lexico.com website. Preliminary findings show how this free online dictionary mirrors the taboo and discriminatory nature of ethnophaulisms and warns the Internet user against the derogatory and offensive power of these words. Keywords: English lexicography, online dictionaries, linguistic racism, xenophobia, hate speech, ethnic slurs, ethnophaulisms, Oxford Dictionary of English, lexico.com
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