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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.

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