The Russo-Ukrainian war that started in 2014 after the Revolution of Dignity was from its start mirrored in everyday Internet communication. The conflict was accompanied by a stream of verbal assaults that are commonly characterized as "hate speech." Rather than deconstructing this hate speech as the application of a certain static vocabulary of obscenities, the authors present it as a complex semantic process based on social pragmatics. Grounded in both anthropology and sociolinguistics, the research approach of the article follows the evolution of Russo-Ukrainian hate speech in time and the change of its social functions. According to one of the findings of this study, hate speech is used not just to abuse the opponent, but to justify the aggression, and is employed more actively by the aggressor than the victim of aggression. The other social function of hate speech is its role in community mobilization through demonstrative and often bodily appropriation of offensive words by the offended side as an endonym. In other words, hate speech is not only an emotional reaction to the events, but a means for establishing in-group and out-group relations of symbolic power.


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pp. 191-220
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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