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Definition of Jargon
Jargon is a literary term that is defined as a use of specific phrases and words
by writers in a particular situation, profession or trade. These specialized
terms are used to convey hidden meanings accepted and understood in that
field. Jargon examples are found in literary and non-literary pieces of writing.
The use of jargon becomes essential in prose or verse or some technical
pieces of writing when the writer intends to convey something only to the
readers who are aware of these terms. Therefore, jargon was taken in early
times as a trade language or as a language of a specific profession, as it is
somewhat unintelligible for other people who do not belong to that particular
profession. In fact, specific terms were developed to meet the needs of the
group of people working within the same field or occupation.
Jargon and Slang
Jargon sometimes is wrongly confused with slang and people often take it in
the same sense but a difference is always there.
Slang is a type of informal category of a certain language developed within a
certain community and consists of words or phrases whose literal meanings
are different than the actual meanings. Hence, it is not understood by people
outside of that community or circle. Slang is more common in spoken
language than written.
Jargon, on the other hand, is broadly associated with a subject, occupation or
business that makes use of standard words or phrases frequently comprising
of abbreviations e.g. HTH, LOL. However, unlike slang, its terms are
developed and composed deliberately for the convenience of a specific
section of society. We can see the difference in two sentences given below.

Did you hook up with him? (Slang)

Getting on a soapbox (Jargon)

Examples of Jargon from Literature

Example #1
Legal jargon used by Shakespeare
Why, may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddities now, his
quillities, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? Why does he suffer this mad
knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not

tell him of his action of battery? Hum! This fellow might be ins time a great
buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double
vouchers, his recoveries: is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his
recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? Will his vouchers vouch him
no more of his purchases and double ones too, than the length and breadth
of a pair of indentures? The very conveyances of his lands will scarcely lie in
this box; and must the inheritor himself have no more, ha?
(Hamlet to Horatio in Hamlet by Shakespeare)
You can see that the use of words specifically related to the field of law.
Lawyer, tenure, battery, recognizances and statutes are legal words used at
the time of Shakespeare.
Example #2
Medical Jargons
Certain medications can cause or worsen nasal symptoms (especially
congestion). These include the following: birth control pills, some drugs for
high blood pressure (e.g., alpha blockers and beta blockers), antidepressants,
medications for erectile dysfunction, and some medications for prostatic
enlargement. If rhinitis symptoms are bothersome and one of these
medications is used, ask the prescriber if the medication could be
aggravating the condition.
(Robert H Fletcher and Phillip L Lieberman)
This passage is full of medical jargon such as nasal, congestions, alpha
blockers and anti-depressants. Perhaps only those in the medical community
would fully understand all of them..
Example #3
Modern legal jargon
In August 2008, 19 individuals brought a putative class action lawsuit in the
U. S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Facebook
and the companies that had participated in Beacon, alleging violations of
various federal and state privacy laws. The putative class comprised only
those individuals whose personal information had been obtained and
disclosed by Beacon during the approximately one-month period in which the
programs default setting was opt out rather than opt in. The complaint
sought damages and various forms of equitable relief, including an injunction
barring the defendants from continuing the program.

(MAREK v. LANE, Supreme Court Order)

Just check this statement given in a case by the Supreme Court. This is full of
modern legal jargon starting with putative, lawsuit, alleging, privacy laws,
equitable, injunction and so on that a layman could only understand with
the help of his lawyer.
Function of Jargon
The use of jargon is significant in prose and verse. It seems unintelligible to
the people who do not know the meanings. Examples of jargon used in
literature are used to emphasize a situation or to refer to something exotic to
the readers or audience. In fact, the use of jargon in literature shows the
dexterity of the writer of having knowledge of other spheres. Writers use
jargon to make a certain character a real one in fiction as well as in plays and

Creole languages

Creole languages, vernacular languages that developed in colonial

European plantation settlements in the 17th and 18th centuries as a result of
contact between groups that spoke mutually unintelligible languages. Creole
languages most often emerged in colonies located near the coasts of
the Atlantic Ocean or the Indian Ocean. Exceptions include Brazil, where no
creole emerged, and Cape Verde and the Lesser Antilles, where creoles
developed in slave depots rather than on plantations.

Most commonly, creoles have resulted from the interactions between

speakers of nonstandard varieties of European languages and speakers of
non-European languages. Creole languages include varieties that are based
on French, such as Haitian Creole, Louisiana Creole, and Mauritian
Creole; English, such as Gullah (on the Sea Islands of the southeastern
United States), Jamaican Creole, Guyanese Creole, and Hawaiian Creole;
and Portuguese, such as Papiamentu (in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaao) and
Cape Verdean; and some have bases in multiple European languages, such
as two creoles found in Suriname, Saramacca (based on English and heavily
influenced by Portuguese) and Sranan (based on English and heavily
influenced by Dutch). Papiamentu is thought to have also been heavily
influenced by Spanish.

Some linguists extend the term creole to varieties that emerged from
contacts between primarily non-European languages. Examples from Africa
include Sango, a creole based on the Ngbandi language and spoken in
the Central African Republic; Kinubi, based on the Arabic language and
spoken in Uganda; and Kikongo-Kituba and Lingala, which are based on

Kikongo-Kimanyanga and Bobangi, respectively, and are spoken in both

the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo.


Coined in the colonies that Spain and Portugal founded in
the Americas, creole was originally used in the 16th century to refer to
locally born individuals of Spanish, Portuguese, or African descent as
distinguished from those born in Spain, Portugal, or Africa. By the early 17th
century the word was adopted into French (and, to some extent, English)
usage to refer to people of African or European descent who had been born
in the American and Indian Ocean colonies. It was also used as an adjective
to characterize plants, animals, and customs typical of the same regions.

The meaning of creole, when applied to people, is not fixed; rather, its use
has varied with speaker and place. In the early 21st century, for instance, it
applied to people of African or mixed descent in Mauritius, but on the
neighbouring island of Runion it applied to any locally born person. It
applied to locally born people of full European and mixed indigenousEuropean descent in Argentina and Uruguay but only to locally born people
of full European descent in Mexico and Panama. In Louisiana the descendants
of Africans refer to themselves and to those descended from French and
Spanish colonials who were resident in the region before the Louisiana
Purchase as Creole, but the latter use the term in reference to themselves

The term creole was first applied to language by the French explorer Michel
Jajolet, sieur de la Courbe, in Premier voyage du sieur de la Courbe fait a la
coste dAfrique en 1685 (1688; First Voyage Made by Sieur de la Courbe on
the Coast of Africa in 1685), in which he used the term to refer to a
Portuguese-based language that was spoken in Senegal. As a linguistic
term, creole may not have been applied to other languages until the late
18th century, and it was not widely used in English until after 1825, although
the term patois was often used.

The practice of labeling these new vernaculars as distinct from their

European parent languages seems to have coincided with the increasing
colonial disenfranchisement of non-Europeans. That disavowal of the
vernaculars was in part due to the fact that educated Europeans who
traveled abroad found the new forms unintelligible. Those visitors incorrectly
concluded that the European parent languages had been corrupted into
complete aberrations through contact with non-European languages and
their speakers, a situation that was believed to reflect the presumed mental
inferiority of the enslaved. However, creoles are in fact normal, full-fledged
languages that may hold the key to better understanding the evolution of

Since the 1930s some linguists have claimed that creoles emerged
from pidgins, languages with very reduced vocabularies and grammars that
are typically seen where otherwise mutually unintelligible groups come
together intermittently. That hypothesis is controversial, in part because the
plantations on which creole languages emerged started as small
homestead communities in which non-European slaves, European indentured
labourers, and European masters lived fairly intimately. Typically, all three of
these groups spoke similarly until a colony shifted from subsistence to
plantation agriculture and institutionalized segregation. The hypothesis
proposed by several creolists in the 1970s and 80snamely, that creoles
emerged abruptlyhas also been contested by those who posit a gradual
development during the transition to a plantation economy.

Scholars have proposed three major hypotheses regarding the structural

development of creole vernacularsthe substrate, superstrate, and
universalist hypotheses. In this context, substrate signifies non-European
languages, and superstrate signifies European languages. According to
substratists, creoles were formed by the languages previously spoken by
Africans enslaved in the Americas and the Indian Ocean, which imposed their
structural features upon the European colonial languages. There are three
main versions of this position. The first invokesinfluence from diverse African
languages without explaining what kinds of selection principles, if any,
operated in the process. The second claims that Haitian Creole is a French
relexification of languages of the Ewe-Fon groupthat is, Haitian Creole uses
French words but with the Ewe-Fon grammar. This view has been criticized

for overlooking several features that Haitian Creole shares with nonstandard
varieties of French, downplaying features that Haitian Creole also shares with
several other relevant African languages, and failing to account for those
cases where Haitian Creole has selected structural options that are not
consistent with those of Ewe-Fon languages. According to the third version of
the substrate hypothesis, a set of substrate languages may impose its
structural features on the new, contact-induced vernaculars if they share
several structural features among themselves. Thus, Melanesian pidgins are
similar to most of their substrates in having the dual/plural and
inclusive/exclusive distinctions in the noun phrase and a transitive marker on
the verb.

According to the competing superstrate hypothesis, the primary, if not

the exclusive, sources of a creoles structural features are the colonial
nonstandard varieties of the European languages from which they
developed. In this view, substrate contributions, especially in creoles of the
Americas and the Indian Ocean, are putatively marginal, in the form of
isolated lexical items such as goober peanut, gumbo, and okra, or are
restricted to special cognitive domains such as Vodou that are or were
controlled quasi-exclusively by descendants of Africans. Otherwise, substrate
influence mostly determined which of the alternatives in the European
colonial languages would become part of the creole systems.

Universalists claim that creoles developed according to universals of

language development. According to the version of this hypothesis called the
language bioprogram hypothesis, which was later revised and became
known as the lexical learning hypothesis, children who were exposed to
a pidgin at an early age created a creole language by adopting only the
vocabularies of the pidgin. They developed new grammars following
the default specifications of the biological blueprint for language, known
as universal grammar or bioprogram. In comparing cases where the lexifier
language (that from which most of the vocabulary has been inherited) is the
same, cross-creole structural differences are thought to arise from the
variable amount of substrate influence retained by each creole from its
pidgin stage. Other universalist hypotheses claim that creoles were
developed by adults according to universals of second language acquisition,
which allow substrate influence under specific conditions.

Few contemporary creolists subscribe to one exclusive genetic account. The

complementary hypothesis, which integrates the strengths of the above
views, has emerged as a more plausible alternative, with its proponents
trying to articulate the linguistic and nonlinguistic conditions under which the
competing influences of the substrate languages and the legacy of the
lexifier may converge or prevail. In this view, the hypothetical features of a
universal grammar or language bioprogram are generalized as a body of
principles that regulate the restructuring of linguistic features from diverse
competing sources into new natural grammatical systems.

More research is still needed before the development of creole languages

can be fully understood. Information on the vernaculars spoken by European
colonists remains limited, which makes it difficult to assess how much
restructuring was involved in the formation of creoles. Because there are few
extensive linguistic descriptions of creoles, it is impossible to
make comprehensivecomparisons between them or to understand the nature
and extent of divergence undergone by the lexifiers. Very few linguistic facts
have been correlated with the conclusions suggested by the specific
sociohistorical backgrounds of individual creoles, and little is understood
about how creoles differ evolutionarily from other vernaculars apart from the
special circumstances of their development.


Diglossia, the coexistence of two varieties of the same language throughout

a speechcommunity. Often, one form is the literary or prestige dialect, and
the other is a common dialect spoken by most of the population. Such a
situation exists in many speech communities throughout the world
e.g., in Greece, where Katharevusa, heavily influenced by Classical Greek, is
the prestige dialect and Demotic is the popular spoken language, and in the
Arab world, where classical Arabic (as used in the Qurn) exists alongside
the colloquial Arabic of Egypt, Morocco, and other countries. Sociolinguists
may also use the term diglossia to denote bilingualism, the speaking of two
or more languages by the members of the same community, as, for example,
in New York City, where many members of the Hispanic community speak
both Spanish and English, switching from one to the other according to the
social situation or the needs of the moment.


Slang, unconventional words or phrases that express either something new
or something old in a new way. It is flippant, irreverent, indecorous; it may be
indecent or obscene. Its colourful metaphors are generally directed at
respectability, and it is this succinct, sometimes witty, frequently impertinent
social criticism that gives slang its characteristic flavour. Slang, then,
includes not just words but words used in a special way in a certain
social context. The origin of the word slang itself is obscure; it first appeared
in print around 1800, applied to the speech of disreputable and criminal
classes in London. The term, however, was probably used much earlier.

Other related types of nonstandard word usage include cant and jargon,
synonyms for vague and high-sounding or technical
and esoteric language not immediately intelligible to the uninitiate. In
England, the term cant still indicates the specialized speech of criminals,
which, in the United States, is more often called argot. The
term dialect refers to language characteristic of a certain geographic area or
social class.

Slang emanates from conflicts in values, sometimes superficial, often
fundamental. When an individual applies language in a new way to express
hostility, ridicule, or contempt, often with sharp wit, he may be creating
slang, but the new expression will perish unless it is picked up by others. If
the speaker is a member of a group that finds that his creation projects the
emotional reaction of its members toward an idea, person, or social
institution, the expression will gain currency according to the unanimity of
attitude within the group. A new slang term is usually widely used in a
subculture before it appears in the dominant culture. Thus slang
e.g., sucker, honkey, shave-tail, jerkexpresses the attitudes, not
always derogatory, of one group or class toward the values of another. Slang
sometimes stems from within the group, satirizing or burlesquing its own
values, behaviour, and attitudes; e.g., shotgun wedding, cake eater,
greasy spoon. Slang, then, is produced largely by social forces rather than
by an individual speaker or writer who, single-handed (like Horace Walpole,
who coined serendipity more than 200 years ago), creates and establishes
a word in the language. This is one reason why it is difficult to determine the
origin of slang terms.

Creators of slang
Civilized society tends to divide into a dominant culture and
various subcultures that flourish within the dominant framework. The
subcultures show specialized linguistic phenomena, varying widely in form
and content, that depend on the nature of the groups and their relation to
each other and to the dominant culture. The shock value of slang stems
largely from the verbal transfer of the values of a subculture to diametrically

opposed values in the dominant culture. Names such as fuzz, pig, fink, bull,
and dick for policemen were not created by officers of the law. (The
humorous dickless tracy, however, meaning a policewoman, was coined by
male policemen.)

Occupational groups are legion, and while in most respects they identify with
the dominant culture, there is just enough social and linguistic hostility to
maintain group solidarity. Terms such as scab, strike-breaker, company-man,
and goon were highly charged words in the era in which labour began to
organize in the United States; they are not used lightly even today, though
they have been taken into the standard language.
In addition to occupational and professional groups, there are many other
types of subcultures that supply slang. These include sexual deviants,
narcotic addicts, ghetto groups, institutional populations, agricultural
subsocieties, political organizations, the armed forces, Gypsies, and sports
groups of many varieties. Some of the most fruitful sources of slang are the
subcultures of professional criminals who have migrated to the New World
since the 16th century. Old-time thieves still humorously refer to themselves
as FFVFirst Families of Virginia.

In criminal subcultures, pressure applied by the dominant culture intensifies

the internal forces already at work, and the argot forming there emphasizes
the values, attitudes, and techniques of the subculture. Criminal groups
seem to evolve about this specialized argot, and both the subculture and its
slang expressions proliferate in response to internal and external pressures.

Most subcultures tend to draw words and phrases from
the contiguouslanguage (rather than creating many new words) and to give
these established terms new and special meanings; some borrowings from
foreign languages, including the American Indian tongues, are traditional.
The more learned occupations or professions like medicine, law, psychology,
sociology, engineering, and electronics tend to create true neologisms, often
based on Greek or Latin roots, but these are not major sources for slang,
though nurses and medical students adapt some medical terminology to

their slang, and air force personnel and some other branches of the armed
services borrow freely from engineering and electronics.

Linguistic processes forming slang

The processes by which words become slang are the same as those by which
other words in the language change their form or meaning or both. Some of
these are the employment of metaphor, simile, folk etymology, distortion of
sounds in words, generalization, specialization, clipping, the use
of acronyms, elevation and degeneration, metonymy,
synecdoche, hyperbole, borrowings from foreign languages, and the play
of euphemism against taboo. The English word trip is an example of a term
that has undergone both specialization and generalization. It first became
specialized to mean a psychedelic experience resulting from the drug LSD.
Subsequently, it generalized again to mean any experience on any drug, and
beyond that to any type of kicks from anything. Clipping is exemplified by
the use of grass from laughing grass, a term for marijuana. Funky,
once a very low term for body odour, has undergone elevation among jazz
buffs to signify the best; fanny, on the other hand, once simply a girls
name, is currently a degenerated term that refers to the buttocks (in
England, it has further degenerated into a taboo word for the female
genitalia). There is also some actual coinage of slang terms.

Psychologically, most good slang harks back to the stage in human culture
when animism was a worldwide religion. At that time, it was believed that all
objects had two aspects, one external and objective that could be perceived
by the senses, the other imperceptible (except to gifted individuals) but
identical with what we today would call the real object. Human survival
depended upon the manipulation of all real aspects of lifehunting,
reproduction, warfare, weapons, design of habitations, nature of clothing or
decoration, etc.through control or influence upon the animus, or
imperceptible phase of reality. This influence was exerted through many
aspects of sympathetic magic, one of the most potent being the use of
language. Words, therefore, had great power, because they evoked the
things to which they referred.


Civilized cultures and their languages retain many remnants of animism,

largely on the unconscious level. In Western languages, the metaphor owes
its power to echoes of sympathetic magic, and slang utilizes certain
attributes of the metaphor to evoke images too close for comfort to reality.
For example, to refer to a woman as a broad is automatically to increase
her girth in an area in which she may fancy herself as being thin. Her
reaction may, thus, be one of anger and resentment, if she happens to live in
a society in which slim hips are considered essential to feminine beauty.
Slang, then, owes much of its power to shock to the superimposition of
images that are incongruous with images (or values) of others, usually
members of the dominant culture. Slang is most popular when its imagery
develops incongruity bordering on social satire. Every slang word, however,
has its own history and reasons for popularity. When conditions change, the
term may change in meaning, be adopted into the standard language, or
continue to be used as slang within certain enclaves of the population.
Nothing is flatter than dead slang. In 1910, for instance, Oh you kid and
23-skiddoo were quite stylish phrases in the U.S. but they have gone with
the hobble skirt. Children, however, unaware of anachronisms, often revive
old slang under a barrage of older movies rerun on television.

Some slang becomes respectable when it loses its edge; spunk, fizzle,
spent, hit the spot, jazz, funky, and p.o.d, once thought to be too
indecent for feminine ears, are now family words. Other slang survives for
centuries, like bones for dice (Chaucer), beat it for run away
(Shakespeare), duds for clothes, and booze for liquor (Dekker). These
words must have been uttered as slang long before appearing in print, and
they have remained slang ever since. Normally, slang has both a high birth
and death rate in the dominant culture, and excessive use tends to dull the
lustre of even the most colourful and descriptive words and phrases. The rate
of turnover in slang words is undoubtedly encouraged by the mass media,
and a term must be increasingly effective to survive.
While many slang words introduce new concepts, some of the most effective
slang provides new expressionsfresh, satirical, shockingfor established
concepts, often very respectable ones. Sound is sometimes used as a basis
for this type of slang, as, for example, in various phonetic distortions
(e.g., pig Latin terms). It is also used in rhyming slang, which employs a
fortunate combination of both sound and imagery. Thus, gloves are
turtledoves (the gloved hands suggesting a pair of billing doves), a girl is a
twist and twirl (the movement suggesting a girl walking), and an insulting
imitation of flatus, produced by blowing air between the tip of the protruded

tongue and the upper lip, is the raspberry, cut back from raspberry tart.
Most slang, however, depends upon incongruity of imagery, conveyed by the
lively connotations of a novel term applied to an established concept. Slang
is not all of equal quality, a considerable body of it reflecting a simple need
to find new terms for common ones, such as the hands, feet, head, and other
parts of the body. Food, drink, and sex also involve extensive slang
vocabulary. Strained or synthetically invented slang lacks verve, as can be
seen in the desperate efforts of some sportswriters to avoid mentioning the
word baseballe.g., a batter does not hit a baseball but rather swats the
horsehide, plasters the pill, hefts the old apple over the fence, and so

The most effective slang operates on a more sophisticated level and often
tells something about the thing named, the person using the term, and the
social matrix against which it is used. Pungency may increase when full
understanding of the term depends on a little inside information or
knowledge of a term already in use, often on the slang side itself. For
example, the term Vatican roulette (for the rhythm system of birth control)
would have little impact if the expression Russian roulette were not already
in wide usage.
Slang invades the dominant culture as it seeps out of various subcultures.
Some words fall dead or lie dormant in the dominant culture for long periods.
Others vividly express an idea already latent in the dominant culture and
these are immediately picked up and used. Before the advent of mass media,
such terms invaded the dominant culture slowly and were transmitted largely
by word of mouth. Thus a term like snafu, its shocking power softened with
the explanation situation normal, all fouled up, worked its way gradually
from the military in World War II by word of mouth (because
the media largely shunned it) into respectable circles. Today, however, a
sportscaster, news reporter, or comedian may introduce a lively new word
already used by an in-group into millions of homes simultaneously, giving it
almost instant currency. For example, the term uptight was first used largely
by criminal narcotic addicts to indicate the onset of withdrawal distress when
drugs are denied. Later, because of intense journalistic interest in the drug
scene, it became widely used in the dominant culture to mean anxiety or
tension unrelated to drug use. It kept its form but changed its meaning

Other terms may change their form or both form and meaning, like one for
the book (anything unusual or unbelievable). Sportswriters in the U.S.
borrowed this term around 1920 from the occupational language of then
legal bookmakers, who lined up at racetracks in the morning (the morning
line is still figuratively used on every sports page) to take bets on the
afternoon races. Newly arrived bookmakers went to the end of the line, and
any bettor requesting unusually long odds was motioned down the line with
the phrase, Thats one for the end book. The general public dropped the
end as meaningless, but old-time gamblers still retain it. Slang spreads
through many other channels, such as popular songs, which, for the initiate,
are often rich in double entendre.
When subcultures are structurally tight, little of their language leaks out.
Thus the Mafia, in more than a half-century of powerful criminal activity in
America, has contributed little slang. When subcultures weaken, contacts
with the dominant culture multiply, diffusion occurs, and their language
appears widely as slang. Criminal narcotic addicts, for example, had a tight
subculture and a highly secret argot in the 1940s; now their terms are used
freely by middle-class teenagers, even those with no real knowledge of

Slang is used for many purposes, but generally it expresses a certain
emotional attitude; the same term may express diametrically opposed
attitudes when used by different people. Many slang terms are primarily
derogatory, though they may also be ambivalent when used in intimacy or
affection. Some crystallize or bolster the self-image or promote identification
with a class or in-group. Others flatter objects, institutions, or persons but
may be used by different people for the opposite effect. Jesus freak,
originally used as ridicule, was adopted as a title by certain street
evangelists. Slang sometimes insults or shocks when used directly; some
terms euphemize a sensitive concept, though obvious or excessive
euphemism may break the taboo more effectively than a less decorous term.
Some slang words are essential because there are no words in the standard
language expressing exactly the same meaning; e.g., freak-out, barnstorm, rubberneck, and the noun creep. At the other extreme,
multitudes of words, vague in meaning, are used simply as fads.

There are many other uses to which slang is put, according to the individual
and his place in society. Since most slang is used on the spoken level, by
persons who probably are unaware that it is slang, the choice of terms
naturally follows a multiplicity of unconscious thought patterns. When used
by writers, slang is much more consciously and carefully chosen to achieve a
specific effect. Writers, however, seldom invent slang.
It has been claimed that slang is created by ingenious individuals to freshen
the language, to vitalize it, to make the language more pungent and
picturesque, to increase the store of terse and striking words, or to provide a
vocabulary for new shades of meaning. Most of the originators and purveyors
of slang, however, are probably not conscious of these noble purposes and
do not seem overly concerned about what happens to their language.
With the rise of naturalistic writing demanding realism, slang began to creep
into English literature even though the schools waged warfare against it, the
pulpit thundered against it, and many women who aspired to gentility and
refinement banished it from the home. It flourished underground, however, in
such male sanctuaries as lodges, poolrooms, barbershops, and saloons.
By 1925 a whole new generation of U.S. and European naturalistic writers
was in revolt against the Victorian restraints that had caused even Mark
Twain to complain, and today any writer may use slang freely, especially in
fiction and drama. It has become an indispensable tool in the hands of
master satirists, humorists, and journalists. Slang is now socially acceptable,
not just because it is slang but because, when used with skill
and discrimination, it adds a new and exciting dimension to language. At the
same time, it is being seriously studied by linguists and other social
scientists as a revealing index to the culture that produces and uses it.




Euphemism Definition
The term euphemism refers to polite, indirect expressions which replace
words and phrases considered harsh and impolite or which suggest
something unpleasant.
Euphemism is an idiomatic expression which loses its literal meanings and
refers to something else in order to hide its unpleasantness. For example,
kick the bucket is a euphemism that describes the death of a person. In
addition, many organizations use the term downsizing for the distressing
act of firing its employees.
Euphemism depends largely on the social context of the speakers and writers
where they feel the need to replace certain words which may prove
embarrassing for particular listeners or readers in a particular situation.
Techniques for Creating Euphemism
Euphemism masks a rude or impolite expression but conveys the concept
clearly and politely. Several techniques are employed to create euphemism.

It may be in the form of abbreviations e.g. B.O. (body odor), W.C.

(toilet) etc.

Foreign words may be used to replace an impolite expression e.g. faux

(fake), or faux pas (foolish error) etc.

Sometimes, they are abstractions e.g. before I go (before I die).

They may also be indirect expressions replacing direct ones which may
sound offensive e.g. rear-end, unmentionables etc.

Using longer words or phrases can also mask unpleasant words e.g.
flatulence for farting, perspiration for sweat, mentally challenged for
stupid etc.

Using technical terms may reduce the rudeness exhibited by words

e.g. gluteus maximus.

Deliberately mispronouncing an offensive word may reduce its severity

e.g. darn, shoot etc.

Euphemism Examples in Everyday Life

Euphemism is frequently used in everyday life. Let us look at some common
euphemism examples:

You are becoming a little thin on top (bald).

Our teacher is in the family way (pregnant).

He is always tired and emotional (drunk).

We do not hire mentally challenged (stupid) people.

He is a special child (disabled or retarded).

Examples of Euphemism in Literature

Example #1
Examples of euphemism referring to sex are found in William Shakespeares
Othello and Antony and Cleopatra. In Othello, Act 1 Scene 1, Iago tells
I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now
making the beast with two backs.
Here, the expression making the beast with two backs refers to the act of
having sex.
Similarly, we notice Shakespeare using euphemism for sexual intercourse in
his play Antony and Cleopatra. In Act 2 Scene 2, Agrippa says about
Royal wench!
She made great Caesar lay his sword to bed.
He plowed her, and she cropped.
The word plowed refers to the act of sexual intercourse and the word
cropped is a euphemism for becoming pregnant.
Example #2
John Donne in his poem The Flea employs euphemism. He says:

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,

How little that which thou denies me is;
It suckd me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
Thou knowst that this cannot be said
A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead;
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pamperd swells with one blood made of two;
And this, alas! is more than we would do.
In order to persuade his beloved to sleep with him, the speaker in the poem
tells her how a flea bit both of them and their blood got mixed in it. This is a
Example #3
The Squealer, a character in George Orwells Animal Farm, uses
euphemisms to help the pigs achieve their political ends. To announce the
reduction of food to the animals of the farm, Orwell quotes him saying:
For the time being, he explains, it had been found necessary to make a
readjustment of rations.
Substituting the word reduction with readjustment was an attempt to
suppress the complaints of other animals about hunger. It works because
reduction means cutting food supply while readjustment implies changing
the current amount of food.
Function of Euphemism
Euphemism helps writers to convey those ideas which have become a social
taboo and are too embarrassing to mention directly. Writers skillfully choose
appropriate words to refer to and discuss a subject indirectly which otherwise
are not published due to strict social censorship e.g. religious fanaticism,
political theories, sexuality, death etc. Thus, euphemism is a useful tool that
allows writers to write figuratively about the libelous issues.