What is euphemism?
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What Does euphemism Mean
Coming from a Latin word, the term euphemism refers to a decorous manifestation , whose more direct and frank expression would be very harsh or sound bad. It refers to a concept that serves to replace another more offensive, vulgar or even taboo ; it is considered that the one used is the appropriate one because it is politically correct . This means that the use of a euphemism prevents colliding with the interlocutor when saying something that, otherwise, could be intolerable for him.
It can also be used to substitute a secret name or with a comic intention . The objective of the euphemism is to convey a reality but making up the most conflictive aspects of it. In the case of humor , it allows to express a grace in an intelligent way, forcing the receiver to understand the double meaning of a certain phrase.
The policy is the area where euphemisms are more common. By using a euphemism, a politician can hide a decision that would be unpopular and present his proposals as something more tolerable by society . For example: "To guarantee growth it is necessary to make a tax adjustment" is a euphemism that can be said instead of "We are going to increase taxes in the face of the crisis . "
Another example of euphemisms in politics appears in international relations when there are armed conflicts. The phrase "collateral damage" masks the innocent deaths that result from war . Society is more tolerant of the idea that a bombing caused "significant collateral damage" rather than hearing that such an attack "resulted in the death of 200 civilians . " "Operation" instead of "invasion" is another euphemism in the war environment.
Euphemisms are also common in everyday language. The notion of “elderly” is often used instead of “elderly” or “old” . While "old" is offensive, the idea of "older adult" suggests advanced age in a more subtle way than "old man . "
Euphemisms and political correctness
In the rhetoric (related discipline with all fields of knowledge that is responsible for studying and developing various procedures and techniques for proper use of language) an understatement is a figure rhetoric that serves to substitute one word for another . The goal is to avoid using words that may be unpleasant or hurtful in favor of others that can help express the same without causing a bad reaction in the listener. Although it is used less and less in current literature, this figure is often found a lot in classical works.
In everyday life we tend to use euphemisms a lot because we have been brought up believing that certain things "are wrong for us to say"; however, it is a mistake to think this way. The words themselves do not have a negative connotation ; this is strictly linked to social prejudices .
An example of a euphemism might be to use the concept of "old age" to refer to "old age" or "adult entertainment" not to say pornography.
Politically correct language is spoken and many claim not to be linked to it, however, we are all to a greater or lesser extent. The important thing is knowing how to understand the limits; not exaggerating in our understanding of others, but also not treating someone who has done nothing to us in a bad way.
Using euphemisms can help us considerably to relate to the world, but abusing their use in our speech can lead us to maintain not very direct communications and damage our development in front of the world; therefore, it is important to know when it is better to be politically correct and when to avoid euphemisms to be more natural and direct, with all the consequences that this implies.