Abusing Euphemisms Discussion

For many people who ‘live by the word’ – Public officials, PR spokesmen, advertisers, campaigners, and the like – euphemism is a favourite weapon. Advertising copywriters, for instance, scared of alarming potential customers, temper the harsh reality: an economy-size or standard carton (small), a budget ticket (cheap), dresses for the full-figure woman (fat), adult films (pornographic).

Sociologists and Psychologists indulge wholesale in ‘sentimental’ (left-wing) or  ‘cosmetic’ (right-wing) euphemisms: disadvantaged, lower-income levels, adjustment problems, slow learner, underachieving, shrinkage (losses through shoplifting), and so on.

Journalists reputedly draw on a ‘secret’ code of euphemisms that skirts the libel laws without for a moment puzzling regular readers: convivial (drunk), ruddy-faced (drunken), steadfast (obstinate), irreverent (rude), outspoken (insulting or threatening), pert (small and plain), creative accounting (fraudulent tampering with the figures), The project is in abeyance (it is suspended because disastrous).

The estate agent’s copywriter used to be the butt, fairly or unfairly, of jokes by housebuyers, amused or unamused. Among his alleged euphemisms were: conveniently located for local transport facilities (overlooking noisy railway lines), sun-drenched (too hot in summer), a renovator’s dream (very tatty), would benefit from some minor structural improvements (condemned as unsafe, about to collapse).

Most notorious of all are political and military spokesmen. Their dubious contributions to the language include the following typical items: pacification (battering into submission), logistical strikes (bombing raids), border realignment (seizure of territory), frank discussions (a slanging match), revenue enhancements (tax increases), containment (concealing information from the public).

For Scientific english editing and Medical Writing Services visit www.manuscriptedit.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *