On Euphemism in English

By Eleanor Armstrong,2014-09-12 14:08
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On Euphemism in English


    Recent years between culture and social of the uses frequency quick

    rising because of our located wo0r1ld‟s general layout occurred huge change.

    In daily life, people hear frequently that others express with many tactful and elegant language words. In daily social, it is tactful to be good at, this is the soul beautiful embodiment with high mastery. Under open occasion, uses the words that certain kind makes one detest, and mentions that certain matter makes one surprising. Social language is the important manner that mankind denies with the social relation and human relations, there so people often in social avoid to use arousing the unhappy language mutual and damages mutual relation, and adopt to move return. Winding method comes to express ideological and alternation information, If have no English tactful

    [1]language, the world will fill with hatred resentmentThe function of tactful

    language likes human feelings, not only has rich content but5 also have certain generality.

1. The definition of euphemism

    What is tactful language?

    Tactful language has better express effect, on rhetoric is also called

    tactful and evade. English tactfully language (euphemism) sources

    from Greek language, prefix eu means good, word trunk

    -pheme speech means spoken language, entire literal meaning is


words of good omen (lucky speech) orgood speech (elegant pleasant


2. The functions of English euphemism

     Tactful language is in Britain and Chinese language that is concerning all kinds of respects in social life. It has reflected the social custom, though pattern, aesthetic good taste, viewpoint of value morals standard that people approve from different angle. From its role in social process to say, the pragmatics functions major express in:

    2.1 The function of taboo

     Any a kind of cultural and society in the world are both exist language taboo (linguistic taboo). The taboo language and some other words unsuitable use in specific occasion, which have necessity connected with tactful language. In some social occasions, people generally think that evade and taboo language is embodied the symbol of social advance. This is the reason for tactful language that extensively apply. But different cultural idea and life custom between eastern and western, people evade the different specific taboo words.

     Tactful language can replace taboo language. When people talk about sexual behavior, body position, physiological phenomenon aged, weight etc, which subject will injure person. People tactful the belly as stomach or tummy. When saying last lavatorypeople can tactfully say wash one‟s hands,


powder one‟s face, answer nature‟s call, relieve oneself, go to the bathroom

    (wash-room), go to see one‟s aunt and etc.

     Death is the most fear taboo subject for people, dead ill and old book of person‟s is the natural rule that cannot resist. However, eastern and western‟s

    various nations evade the saying of die. Because deathis a kind of

    misfortune and a kind of disaster, people hidden the word die,sometimes

    for memorizing the dead, and sometimes to praise the dead; sometimes avoid to reword this fearful and mysterious word. Therefore people have arisen plenty of tactful language, more than 100 kinds of tactful sayings in Britain and Chinese language. In some occasions, when people mention this word

    die use some following tactful words : call the dead as loved one; the dead bury land is called as memorial park, remembrance park. This too straightforward word die be used in following tactful way to express:

    pass away (die), sleep (demise), go to heaven (go heaven), depart this life (pass away ), to expire (die), to be no more (haven‟t), to lay down one‟s life

    (dedicate life, donate body), to go to sleep (demise), to end one‟s day (life end,

    pass away ), to breathe one‟s last (breathe one‟s last, die ),join the majority

    (join majority), to be gone to a better place (have gone to better place ) etc. Say the soldier‟s death or sacrifice tactfully in arm to say one‟s last shot (have hit final gun), make the ultimate (sacrifice life) etc.

     The people that live on this world can‟t avoid ill, even get serious illness

    throughout life. So people are taboo to concern this subject disease.


     Although it is aged to nature rule, however, people do not be willing to face such fact. In a lot of countries, especially woman do not be willing that others say they are old. Therefore when people talk about old people, usually use senior citizen, the longer lived and the advanced in age frequently. 2.2 The function of politeness

     The another function of tactful language is avoid be rude. When people have concerned the matter that makes one unhappy impatiently to wait will select the tactful expression to avoid the injury affection. We can find this motivation theoretical foundation from courtesy principle (Politeness Principle ). The negative type of courtesy principle can be briefly (other

    condition equal ) make effort to reduce express that not courtesy. At the same time a definite type:

    [2](other condition equal) make effort to enlarge courtesy express,

    which consistent the role of tactful language with courtesy principle.

    This tactful language‟s utilize in social language offered basis.

    2.2.1 The euphemism concerning age

     Along with years passed, people from youth to middle age, arrived oldness finally, this is natural rule. But the different culture of country people‟s can

    send different reaction for oldness and these old person words.

    When we call old sir or old birthday man, it is often add the word of old

    behind their surname in order to show respect. For example Zhang Lao

    you go first. But this kind of name gets nowhere among British-U.S. person,


because in their consciousness old is the synonym of not in have

    used .Elderly and Senior are used to replace old frequently, the other more indirect tactful expressing way replace no longer young (already not

    young) and at least more easier to accept by people. Some person especially for middle-aged (middle age) woman also very sensitive. So the ambiguous diction tactful saying such as of a certain age (press literal

    meaning literal translation ishave reached the certain age of one year)

    has emerged by the times require.

    2.2.2 The euphemism concerning personnel’s features

     In English there is many commendatory word that describe appearance of person‟s such as good-looking, handsome, pretty, beautiful, charming,

    attractive, dignified. These are differentiated from handsome, pretty,

    expression, charming etc. If the discussed person even be average

    definitude ugly, above mentioned adjective is nearly impossible to use. It is also unsuitable to use ugly, awful (fearful) kind of words with very strong remote meaning, otherwise, speaker is too unkind and has no courtesy. Sensible practice is certainly to choose more tactful words to avoid this kind of plight. Plain (ordinary) or ordinary both can hint how the true condition is, also can say bad-looking person.

    2.2.3 The euphemism concerning occupations

     In English-American society, professional is lowly wide great in degree. Therefore no matter common people or government, not matter engage in the


    law income occupation and position, or engage in the high income occupation and position, try the best to borrow language to reduce gap. For

    instance, the worker who clears away rubbish is called Sanitation engineer (sanitary technician) instead of garbage collector. The later directly mentions that rubbish makes person associate dirty, broken thing, the packing in a mess and something smell bad. The former makes this work very important, it has raised the social position of clean work obviously, and also avoided to injury people‟s vanity and the self-respect. Also, we call worker as

    landscape(architect); call barker hair stylist; call mend shoe maker

    shoe rebuild;call meat sell meat technologist (meat expert); call make

    up person beautician. The use of tactful language make the sharp gap

    problem relax.

    2.3 The function of covering up

     The another reason that people use tactful language in social is tactful language has vague color to cover up which have much beautified deceive as far as possible can cover fact. Around the American indicant of water

    gate , official have created plenty of tactful languages to cover this scandal. This plot is called Scenario(plan). The person who steals information is

    Plumbers (plumber person). In 1980 American sent the helicopter rescue the hostage in Iran but failures American president fits ingeniously call is

    incomplete success(out-of round full victory). This use of word not only

    have redeemed reputation in the would for American, but also sought steps for


    American government in front of American people.

     Please see thee following example. This is tactful language which has

    created by the government officials for their political purpose. These

    political tactful languagehave been used to social problem such as poor, criminal in domestic that is not really serious. External war belongs to

    necessary political behavior, conventional and military to take action.

    And such as the incident of water gate as the political scandal is matter has

    because of the unexpected fault:

     Intelligence gathering bugs (collect information)

     Break the law——in appropriate (not proper)

     Defeated-strategic withdraw (strategy withdraw )

     Aggression war-international armed conflict

     Shanty town substandard housing (do not join the housing of specifications)

     Death penalty-capital punishment (capital punishment)

     Prostitution-the social ceil (society vicious)

     Prison-a house of correction (culture courtyard)

     Use this kind of tactful language meaning deliberately to misrepresent,

    confuse opinion, deceive people, so have aroused the people‟s strong unsatisfaction because of American Ministry of Defense customary uses this

    kind of trick. A person have obviously designed ridicule meaning name

    Pentagons (Pentagon term ) for using it.


    The manufacturer also uses tactful language to play tricks intentionally to deceive customer when adverts propaganda. The famous Ford Motor Corporation has such copy propaganda language:

    Continue driving with a fail bearing could result in disengagement the shaft and adversely affect of vehicle control.

    This sentence denotes automobiles essentially have made illness; that vehicle person may be killed from its form really some tactful language but have to unusual. The subject of whole sentence is drive vehicle

    continuously not this kind of automobile is our company‟s produce. Link up

    to see the person‟s impression is that this kind of automobile‟s or catastrophe possible appearance is unimportant; and automobile occurs this kind of problem. If drive continuously, all consequence can only be taken the responsibility for yourself. This is only belong to the manufacturer‟s


     Certainly, people also often use some tactful language in view of good motivation. For example in talking about a certain disease normally adopt tactful saying. Heart disease are called “heart condition”, cancer has been

    called “growth”, it has partially covered up the fearfulness of disease, which is more easier accepted by patient. Teacher normally does not say student “stupid ” when appraising them, but called “subnormal ”(intelligence

    ordinary). Do not say “slow”, but say him is a “special child ”(the child with special condition ). These tactful language‟s semantics are vague superficial,


    but has obvious encouragement, embodied very strong social tolerant, and have linked up the relation as a bridge between person and person. 2.4 The function of esthetics

     Language can create beauty. Tactful language like this. Its aesthetics function denotes some tactful language that can not only make expressing appropriate describe is graceful that can create the vivid artistic and conception, it makes one associate the ideas of beauty and get the enjoyment of beauty.

    In English, woman pregnancy use “a baby-in-waiting”, This kind of

    expressing way not only vivid but also implied deeply, which makes person associate the pregnant woman urgently wait little life born with the happy, excited, tense and worry complex moods. Although this kind of “waiting”

    tactfully express create life beauty. In some literature works do not lack appropriate tactful language for creating basis characteristic and life experience, the reader can fell very high aesthetics value and long artistic vitality when reading.

3. The use of English euphemism

     Each social and nation‟s historical and cultural existence certain discrepancy, but its psychological characteristic and language pattern have its identical place, have some taboo phenomenon, such as under some occasions, people avoid lavatory and some positions for mean occupation, gods, death,


    sexual, love and body as taboo, some disease and deformity etc. go on direct, disguised discuss, and to be acting with tactful language in order to avoid offend others. If express directly, that breaks prohibition to avoid to the feeling of person is rude, stiff, ear-piercing, unreasonable. This is tactful language‟s “evade” function. Take disease to say, people in order to carry out

    social successfully, to avoid stimulate patient, they have created a lot of implicit sayings taboo decorations normally do not directly mention the disease that makes one small color changes instance, tuberculosis does not speak “tuberculosis”, and circumvent use “lung trouble” or “lung affliction” to show, avoid using “crazy man” or “madam”, mad house also becomes “asylum” (sanctuary and detention). In English have a lot of expressions for

    “death”, such as pass away, go, go west, depart, go to heaver and be with god

    pay one‟s debt to nature, to go a better world, pay Saint Deter a visit, troubles be over now and so on. A person donates body can say “lay down one‟s life for one‟s country or course, the dead is also called “the departed”. Certainly,

    the tactful language that expresses “death” also do not be confined to this, the

    importance of tactful language can be seen a spot. Because the above phrases have expressed commendatory feelings and good will for the dead. Just as the people in Chinese use “die”, “die of illness”, “life end”, “make ancient”, “to pass away” etc, which have expressed the attitude for the dead. These make social communication becomes nature, smooth, otherwise, use some coarse

    [ 3] unreasonable words will make one unhappy. Kick the bucket(warped braid)


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