Magazine
Latest Issue

Snake, trash and vegetable: the surprising history of today’s offensive slurs

Forget what the adage says about words never hurting. Language can be harmful—and has been for a long time

By Simon Lancaster   March 2018

Political correctness has never seemed less correct. It’s been blamed for Brexit, the rise of Trump and the woes of the white working-classes. But for all the complaints about our language being over-policed, without some care we can easily lapse, or be led, into tropes that don’t liberate our thought, but warp it.

Linguistic dehumanisation can, and often has, been followed by physical violence.

These six insidiously powerful metaphors show how, when we lose control of language, we lose control of humanity.

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect