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Euphemism

By Ma Haiji (Nini)

Etymology of the word euphemism


euphemize [1855-60; Gk euphmzein to use words of good omen] eu- a combining form meaning good, well, occurring originally in loanwords from Greek euphemism: made up of three bound morphemes:, all Greek in origin: eu (good) + phem(voice) +ism (act/result)

Etymology of the word euphemism


Examples:
eulogy: a statement of praise, esp. a set oration in honor of a deceased person; -high praise eulogize v, euphony: agreeableness of sound; pleasing effect to the ear, esp. a pleasant sounding or harmonious combination or succession of words euphonic adj. eugenic eupeptic etc.

Etymology of the word euphemism


In the sixteenth century, the British aristocracy was developing its own elaborate court language. Characterized by circumlocutions and amplifications, or, in other words, beatings around the bush, runnings around in circles, and excessive verbiage, this courtly argot was known as euphuism and was given its name by the author John Lyly who employed it in a satirical work called Euphues (1578). By the early 1580s, the author George Blount used the term euphemism in English, defining it as a good or favorable interpretation of a bad word. Although the terms euphuism and euphemism do not have the same meaning, they both describe a manner of speaking that leans toward indirectness in the service of pleasantness.

Formation of euphemisms
Joseph M. Williams suggests five general semantic processes by means of which euphemisms are created. borrowing words from other languages----terms that are less freighted with negative associations, e.g., halitosis (bad breath)< Latin halitus for breath widening----When a specific term becomes too painful or vivid, we move up in the ladder of abstraction. e.g., growth (cancer), foundation (girdle), solid human waste (feces) semantic shift----the substitution of the whole, or a similar generality, for the specific part we do not choose to discuss. e.g., rear end (bottom)

Formation of euphemisms
metaphorical transfer----the comparison of things of one order to things of another. e.g. blossom (pimple) phonetic distortion----When we encounter words that we dare not speak their names, we abbreviate, apocopate (shorten or omit the last syllable), initial, convert, backform and reduplicate them. e.g. Abbreviation: ladies < ladies room Apocopation: vamp < vampire (a seductive woman) Initialing: JC < Jesus Christ Backforming: burgle (rob) < burglar Reduplication: pee-pee < piss Phonetic distortion: cripes < Christ, Gad < God

Formation of euphemisms
Examples of euphemism
1.garbage man 2. old people 3. pregnant 4. die 5. the dead 6. burier 7. lunatic asylums sanitation engineer senior citizen in the family way pass away the deceased /the late undertaker / mortician mental institutions

Analysis of the organization of the text


Para. 1: A common definition: euphemism has got a bad name. Para. 2: Change in names vs change in nature. Para. 3: Euphemism -- a method of generating new and useful ways of perception. Para. 4: The neutral nature of the process of euphemising Para. 5 The cultural effect of euphemizing on language: Para. 6: Moral dimensions of euphemising Para. 7: Summary of main idea

Language points
auspicious: (fairly formal) favorable or glorified, raising the status of the person referred to, e.g. It was an auspicious start to their election campaign. exalted: uplifting down-to-earth: factual, telling what something actually is partial: showing special favor to one side, person, etc., esp. in an unfair way; biased partiality: bias e.g. Show no partiality in your decisions. be partial to: like very much, e.g, Im very partial to sweet foods. detestable: hateful

Language points
operation: (singular) used as part of a code name for military campaigns expunge: (formal) remove completely, e.g. from a piece of writing or from your memory, because it causes problems or bad feelings e.g. He had tried to expunge memories of the failure. his battle to expunge the clause from the contact imagery: the mental pictures that are created in your mind by poetic language; used also of the words which create these pictures. e.g. He argued that Shakespeares plays were patterns of imagery.

Language points
amiss: wrong, inadequate (sth.) not come/go amiss: it would be very welcome and useful e.g. A little calm and detachment wouldnt come amiss. vein: style or mood e.g. - John Gielgud can also be heard in much lighter vein on Radio Four - The letter continued in this vein for several pages. generate: (formal) cause (a situation or feeling) to begin, esp. when it then continues to exist or develop by itself e.g. - Technology by itself does not generate new ideas -This book will continue to generate excitement for a long time - Tourism will generate new jobs.

Language points
attend to: deal with (e.g. a problem), see to e.g. - I had two items of business to attend to before I could relax. - If we do not attend to the problem, it will certainly grow. divert: cause to be used for a different purpose of activity e.g. -We feel it desirable to divert funds from armaments to health and education. - If you dont use it, you can divert the money into savings. alienatefrom: emotionally or intellectually separate from, estrange, isolate e.g. - We live in an age in which people have been alienated from their roots. - The leadership must never become alienated from the ordinary members. - I felt alienated, angry and alone. - the growing feeling of despair and alienation

Language points
frame of mind: the mood that someone is in, which causes him to have a particular attitude to something; humour e.g. Im not the right frame of mind for riddles. authentic: (painting, a piece of writing, etc.) genuine rather than being an imitation; real; bona fide e.g. - They inserted among the authentic documents several that had been forged. - It is an authentic Air Force jacket incongruous: strange for not fitting properly into the rest of the event or situation e.g.- He was an incongruous figure among the tourists. -The sound of the horn hung in the air, lonely and incongruous. -I was struck by the glaring incongruity of the scene. There I was, my face dirty, my clothes torn; and there he was, immaculate as usual.

Language points
amount to: have particular worth or importance; be worth e.g. - It is unlikely that the forthcoming talks will amount to very much. - What do these rumors amount to?

priorities: a set of problems, considerations, or courses of action, which need dealing with in a particular order because some are more important than others. e.g. - There is little attempt to find out the priorities of the public. - The policeman had his priorities right.

Language points
categorically: positively e.g. - The government have stated quite categorically that were going to see a change in priorities. - be categorical about: completely certain about; positive e.g. On this point we can be clear and categorical. propriety: (formal) correctness of behaviour in terms of what is considered socially or morally acceptable e.g. - What is questionable is the propriety of diluting truth for the sake of a good story. - I always try to write with propriety.

Organization and development of the text II Clutter


Para. 1: Introducing the topic - fighting clutter is like fighting weeds: the writer is always slightly behind. The simile hints at the difficulty involved in fighting clutter. Para 210: Various forms that clutter may take: -- Prepositions that are draped onto verbs -- adjectives that do not really qualify the noun -- laborious phrases

Organization and development of the text II Clutter


Para 2-10: various forms that clutter may take: -- ponderous euphemisms -- language of business companies -- language of the interoffice memo -- language of the Pentagon -- language of government officials

Organization and development of the text II Clutter


Para. 11: Re-asserting the point: Clutter is the enemy, whatever form it takes. Para. 12 14: Illustrating with examples of long words that are no better than their shorter synonyms Paras. 15-18 Citing personal experience in fighting

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