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Euphemania: Our Love Affair with Euphemisms by Ralph Keyes

By Ralph Keyes

How did die turn into kick the bucket, undies develop into unmentionables, and having an affair develop into climbing the Appalachian path? initially used to prevent blasphemy, honor taboos, and make great, euphemisms became embedded within the textile of our language. EUPHEMANIA strains the origins of euphemisms from a device of the church to a kind of gentility to modern device of business, political, and postmodern doublespeak. As a lot social observation as a ebook for be aware enthusiasts, EUPHEMANIA is a full of life and thought-provoking examine the facility of phrases and our strength over them.

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Sample text

W. Holder. The Euphemism Carousel Euphemisms must step lively to keep pace with changing attitudes. Another era’s tacky comment is today’s hip remark. Yesterday’s polite euphemism is tomorrow’s prissy evasion. ” Now, just the opposite is true. The former is thought to be vulgar, the latter decent. Since language is in constant flux, as are social values, euphemisms can quickly lose their utility. Good words become bad words become good words again, in endless succession. Euphemisms are like a verbal carousel: some words hop on, others jump off, still others stay put for the entire ride and sometimes lose their euphemistic status in the process.

Euphemania Eupheme was the nurse of ancient Greece’s Muses. Her name literally means “good speaking” (eu = “good,” pheme = “speaking”). ” That term usually refers to polite words but not always. Although I began this project with the assumption that a clear distinction could be made between genteel euphemisms and other types of substitute words such as slang, jargon, and double entendres, the further I got, the more apparent it became that this distinction was too sharp. I came to see a broader matrix of substitute words that are euphemistic but not necessarily genteel.

Politicians don’t “lie” but do sometimes misspeak. Bombardiers no longer “drop bombs”; they unleash vertically deployed antipersonnel devices. Because what makes us uncomfortable changes with the times, there is a constant demand for new euphemisms. And we are up to the task of supplying them. “It is a poor week when I fail to note two or three new euphemisms,” observes euphemism compiler R. W. Holder. The Euphemism Carousel Euphemisms must step lively to keep pace with changing attitudes. Another era’s tacky comment is today’s hip remark.

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