Trump’s “Chinese Virus” Stigma: A Critical Pragmatic Analysis

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Fareed Hameed Al-Hindawi, Siham Mohammed Hasan Alkawwaz, Maha Al-Mohammed


A language can easily degrade individuals, societies, and even nations with no more than an insulting label, in this case, a stigma. This paper deals with a special type of derogatory language, which takes social power and control to a whole new level of aggression, mainly through shaming and belittling others. Subsequently, when such a language is used by those in power it can lead to marginalizing and isolating via discourse-destruction. The language of stigmatization is targeted from a pragmatic perspective by taking into account its usage value in societal discourse. Donald Trump’s coronavirus-related terms “Chinese virus”, “Wuhan Virus”, and “Kung Flu” unfairly smear Chinese people. His creation of negative stigmas at a time of global crisis is racist and endangering particularly to power-oriented discourses, thus, raising critical language awareness to power assignment and exercise. The analysis is rendered in light of a critical pragmatic approach with the aim of providing a mechanistic and naturalistic method to apprehending the usage of stigmatizing discourse. Granted, it is hypothesized and proven that certain pragmatic functions and strategies are utilized to manifest stigmatization, and it is through critical pragmatics that the unveiling of the ideological aspects of stigmatized discourse is a possibility.

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