"Beat Back the Hun!” How an act of ‘Self’-construction was turned into an exemplary case of ‘Othering’

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To call Germans “Huns”, or collectively, “the Hun”, in Britain today counts as an offensive utterance, and the specific lexical item Hun in this meaning a dysphemism. In current usage, it only occasionally resurfaces in tongue-in-
cheek statements, often related to football. The term Hun also features as a
citation (and often as a good punning opportunity for headlines) in articles that discuss anti-German incidents and statements and relate them to lingering resentments from World Wars I and II. What gives the Hun nickname such an enduring appeal as an anti-German invective, even if it is used mainly mockingly these days? Should it be regarded as a metaphor, given that its nonfigurative
reference to an ancient Asian people is transparent to most users?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-89
Number of pages14
Issue number1
Early online date16 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Intercultural Communication
  • German History
  • World War I
  • Dysphemism
  • Metaphor

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