However, few individuals take reasonable care when selecting the very vocabulary for their message.
In a series of articles on our blog, Linguistic Aid Kit are going to discuss various dimensions of language which represent – to a certain extent – the most important nuances of speech. These are going to include alliterations, assonances, scientific terminology, words of different origins, regional and communal jargons, religious allegories, and many more.
In the present article, and the video following it underneath, we are concentrating on euphemisms. These are words and phrases which avoid naming unpleasant phenomena or discourteous language and substituting them with lighter and politer language, so as to assuage their effect while still conveying the core message.
Euphemisms are frequently used in media, and in social situations involving vulnerable groups, such as young children. They can be separated into several groups, some of which are briefly described below.
Phonetic modification: Consonants can be substituted with others so as to spell different words which, in the context, can and will be understood as the avoided profane word (e.g. ‘heck’ instead of ‘hell’). Alternatively, words can be shortened thus only alluding to the word in question (such as ‘Jeez’ for ‘Jesus’).
Printing modification: In media symbols with no phonetic meaning are used to represent vulgarisms (F!”£$^)
Figures of speech: Sometimes adjectives can be understated (as seen in the video). Thus ‘dead’ becomes ‘asleep’, or ‘drunk’ becomes ‘intoxicated’. Ambiguity can also be a vehicle towards achieving a euphemism: ‘that time of the month’.
Naturally, there can be a great deal more ways in which one can alleviate the charge of their language.
What is of essence to this article is to stress the impact this can have on a conversation or a speech. Euphemisms are powerful in their ability to mollify the emotions of the listeners and allow them to concentrate on facts, rather than emotions. In this context, they can be an excellent means for pragmatic speakers to communicate with their audience, be it a single person or a large conference room. Entrepreneurs, business persons and team managers can extort substantial benefits, and so can their target groups.
On the other hand, as a double-edged sword, euphemisms serve splendidly to the end of controlling individuals or masses. This is why political leaders, lawyers and psychologists, among other professionals, reach out to their aid.
Studying their capabilities and effects is certainly useful to anyone who wishes to augment the standard of their communication. Learning to control their use and their dimensions can be of paramount importance in a range of environments.
To supplement this article, we have provided the link below, which will take you to an excellent routine by George Carlin, which describes euphemisms in a lively and entertaining way, while underlining some of the negative effects they may have.
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Linguistic Aid Kit