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Linguistic impoliteness and religiously aggravated hate crime in England and Wales

Abstract: Despite its centrality to religiously aggravated hate crime recorded in England and Wales, the nature of the language used has been neglected in research. This paper, based on a unique dataset, aims to rectify this. It takes its approach from the field of linguistic impoliteness, a field that has yet to consider hate crime. Therein lies our second aim: To consider whether impoliteness notions can be usefully extended to the language of hate crime. In our data, we examine, in particular, conventionalized impoliteness formulae, insults, threats, incitement and taboo words. Whilst we reveal some linguistic support for the way religiously aggravated hate crime is framed in the law and discussed in the legal literature, we highlight areas of neglect and potential ambiguity. Regarding impoliteness, we demonstrate its effectiveness as an approach to these data, but we also highlight areas of neglect in that literature too, notably, non-conditional threats and incitement.
Keywords: hate crime / impoliteness / linguistic / religiously aggravated hate

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