GEORGE CARLIN - SOFT LANGUAGE (EUFEMISMS
I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't words that conceal reality. I don't like
euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with
euphemisms. Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans
have trouble facing the truth, so they invent the kind of a soft language to protest
themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason, it ust
keeps getting worse. I'll give you an e!ample of that. "here's a condition in combat.
#ost people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been
stressed to it's absolute peak and ma!imum. Can't take anymore input. "he nervous
system has either $click% snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war, that
condition was called shell shock. &imple, honest, direct language. "wo syllables, shell
shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. "hat was seventy years ago. "hen a
whole generation went by and the second world war came along and very same
combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. "akes a little longer to
say. 'oesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. &hell shock(
)attle fatigue. "hen we had the war in *orea, +,-.. #adison avenue was riding high
by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational e!haustion.
/ey, were up to eight syllables now( And the humanity has been s0uee1ed completely
out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. 2perational e!haustion. &ounds like
something that might happen to your car. "hen of course, came the war in 3iet 4am,
which has only been over for about si!teen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies
and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition
was called post5traumatic stress disorder. &till eight syllables, but we've added a
hyphen( And the pain is completely buried under argon. 6ost5traumatic stress
disorder. I'll bet you if we'd of still been calling it shell shock, some of those 3iet
4am veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha. I'll
)ut. )ut, it didn't happen, and one of the reasons. 2ne of the reasons is because we
were using that soft language. "hat language that takes the life out of life. And it is a
function of time. It does keep getting worse. I'll give you another e!ample. &ometime
during my life. &ometime during my life, toilet paper became bathroom tissue. I
wasn't notified of this. 4o one asked me if I agreed with it. It ust happened. "oilet
paper became bathroom tissue. &neakers became running shoes. False teeth became
dental appliances. #edicine became medication. Information became directory
assistance. "he dump became the landfill. Car crashes became automobile accidents.
6artly cloudy bacame partly sunny. #otels became motor lodges. /ouse trailers
became mobile homes. 7sed cars became previously owned transportation. 8oom
service became guest5room dining. And constipation became occasional irregularity.
9hen I was a little kid, if I got sick they wanted me to go to the hospital and see a
doctor. 4ow they want me to go to a health maintenance organi1ation...or a wellness
center to consult a healthcare delivery professional. 6oor people used to live in slums.
4ow the economically disadvantaged occupy substandard housing in the inner cities.
And they're broke( "hey're broke( "hey don't have a negative cash5flow position.
"hey're fucking broke( Cause a lot of them were fired. :ou know, fired. management
wanted to curtail redundancies in the human resources area, so many people are no
longer viable members of the workforce.
&mug, greedy, well5fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins.
It's as simple as that. "he CIA doesn't kill anybody anymore, they neutrali1e
people...or they depopulate the area. "he government doesn't lie, it engages in
disinformation. "he pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they
call sunshine units. Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are
called terrorists. Contra killers are called freedom fighters. 9ell, if crime fighters
fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight; "hey never
mention that part of it to us, do they; 4ever mention that part of it.
And...and some of this stuff is ust silly, we all know that, like on the airlines, they say
want to pre5 board. 9ell, what the hell is pre5board, what does that mean; "o get on
before you get on; "hey say they're going to pre5board those passengers in need of
special assistance. Cripples( &imple honest direct language. "here is no shame
attached to the word cripple that I can find in any dictionary. 4o shame attached to it,
in fact it's a word used in bible translations. <esus healed the cripples. 'oesn't take
seven words to describe that condition. )ut we don't have any cripples in this country
anymore. 9e have The physically challenged. Is that a grotes0ue enough evasion for
you; /ow about differently abled. I've heard them called that. 'ifferently abled( :ou
can't even call these people handicapped anymore. "hey'll say, =9ere not
handicapped. 9ere handicapable(= "hese poor people have been bullshitted by the
system into believing that if you change the name of the condition, somehow you'll
change the condition. 9ell, hey cousin, ppsssspptttttt. 'oesn't happen. 'oesn't
9e have no more deaf people in this country, hearing impaired. 4o ones blind
anymore, partially sighted or visually impaired. 9e have no more stupid people.
Everyone has a learning disorder...or he's minimally e!ceptional. /ow would you like
to be told that about your child; =/e's minimally e!ceptional.= =2ohh, thank god for
that.= 6sychologists actually have started calling ugly people, those with severe
appearance deficits. It's getting so bad, that any day now I e!pect to hear a rape victim
referred to as an unwilling sperm recipient.
And we have no more old people in this country. 4o more old people. 9e shipped
them all away, and we brought in these senior citizens. Isn't that a typically American
twentieth century phrase; )loodless, lifeless, no pulse in one of them. A senior
citizen. )ut I've accepted that one, I've come to terms with it. I know it's to stay. 9e'll
never get rid of it. "hat's what they're going to be called, so I'll rela! on that, but the
one I do resist. "he one I keep resisting is when they look at an old guy and they'll
say, =>ook at him 'an( /e's ninety years young.= Imagine the fear of aging that
reveals. "o not even be able to use the word =old= to describe somebody. "o have to
use an antonym. And fear of aging is natural. It's universal. Isn't it; 9e all have that.
4o one wants to get old. 4o one wants to die, but we do( &o we bullshit ourselves. I
started bullshitting myself when I got to my forties. As soon as I got into my forties
I'd look in the mirror and I'd say, =well, I...I guess I'm getting...older.= 2lder sounds a
little better than old doesn't it; &ounds like it might even last a little longer. )ullshit,
I'm getting old( And it's okay, because thanks to our fear of death in this country, I
won't have to die...I'll pass away. 2r I'll e!pire like a maga1ine subscription. If it
happens in the hospital, they'll call it a terminal episode. "he insurance company will
refer to it as negative patient5care outcome. And if it's the result of malpractice, they'll
say it was a therapeutic misadventure. I'm telling you, some of this language makes
me want to vomit. 9ell, maybe not vomit. #akes me want to engage in an
involuntary personal protein spill.