Słowo „Murzyn” jako perlokucyjny akt mowy

Margaret Ohia-Nowak


The Word “Murzyn” as a Perlocutionary Speech Act

Whilst an array of words is used by white Poles to describe and denote Black people both outside Poland and within the country itself, in recent years, a heated public debate has taken place in Poland concerning the on-going use of the term Murzyn in everyday speech acts and in public discourse. The word actively reproduces anti-black stereotypes and racist meanings, and also conceals the prejudice, not least by virtue of the fact that a number of White Polish public persons claim that Murzyn is a neutral word used inoffensively to refer to Black people. Recently, as the demonstrations after George Floyd’s death spread across Europe, the continuing use of the term has been widely protested by Poles of African descent, and a growing number of Polish linguists argue against the word’s assumed neutrality.

In this article, I draw upon the internalism and externalism in communication theory as I demonstrate perlocutionary effects of the word Murzyn from semi-interviews conducted with black Poles in 2014 and 2020, and utterance of Poles of African descent from media discourse between 2011 and 2020. With regard to the histories, experiences, and perspectives of Black communities in Poland, I argue that the derogatory meaning of the word depends largely on its effects on thoughts and feelings of the recipient, namely the pragmatic perlocution and the externalist communication theory, and less on the intention of the speaker and the internalist communication theory.

Słowa kluczowe: Murzyn, pragmalinguistics, racism, speech acts, perlocution, externalism, internalism, Black people in Poland

Pierwotną wersją czasopisma jest wersja elektroniczna publikowana
kwartalnie w internecie. Czasopismo ukazuje się w sposób ciągły on-line.