A Discussion on Euphemism

Euphemism plays a very important role in coordinating social relations and is a common phenomenon in human languages though the expressions of euphemism vary in different races, times. The word “euphemism” which refers to good speech originates from Greek. It is a kind of rhetoric. In euphemism, people tend to use pleasant, implicit, polite and elegant words or phrases instead of the vulgar, disturbing and direct ones. In other words, people would rather use better-sounding names than call a spade a spade. For example, doctors may be quite direct to a retarded boy's parents, but his relatives and teachers would possibly say in a polite manner “The child is simply ‘a bit slow for his age’.” Next are the fields which euphemism is frequently referred to.
A. Euphemism in life
1. Death and disease. In Chinese culture, people talk more about living and avoid using the word “death”. In countries like UK and the USA, people, though they do not consider it as a complete taboo, will choose euphemistic expressions such as pass away, fall asleep, and pay the debt of nature. The words to replace diseases are also widely used, such as the big C and long illness to represent cancer.
2. Excretion. People often use “monthly period” or say:”I’m having my friend with me.” instead of mentioning menses directly. In formal occasions, it is rather offensive and makes people feel awkward if one just shouts out:”I want to have a piss!” Actually, even the milder “move the bowels” or “make water” are not common in use. Expressions like “use the bathroom”, “answer a call of nature” are more acceptable and popular.
3. Age and figure. In contrast to Chinese people, westerners are unwilling to accept that they are getting older; therefore, the euphemisms about oldness are plentiful, for instance, past one’s prime, senior citizen, and golden ager. As to figure, westerners tend to use “plain”, ”ordinary” to replace the offensive “ugly”. When saying that someone is quite thin, they often use...
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