EURēCA: Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement

Presenter Information

Hannah NelsonFollow

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Maria Gallmeier

Department (e.g. History, Chemistry, Finance, etc.)

Modern Foreign Languages and Literature

College (e.g. College of Engineering, College of Arts & Sciences, Haslam College of Business, etc.)

College of Arts & Science




It has been widely noted by linguistics that the process of pejoration, a specific type of semantic change, is very common in words specific to women. Words like bitch, cunt, harlot, and slut all have neutral origins and convoluted histories that even made some of these words specific to men. However, in modern English, these words are specifically terms of abuse towards women. Analysis of the ways in which these words have changed will help glean an understanding of trends in semantic pejoration of female-related terms of abuse in English. Two general trends are concluded, specifically the virgin/whore dichotomy and the metaphorical extension process called zoosemy.

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