Peculiarities of Euphemisms in English

1 January 2017

Euphemism is used to replace an unpleasant word or expression by a conveniently more acceptable one. For example the word to die has the following euphemisms: to expire, to pass away, to depart, to join the majority, to kick the bucket, etc… . Euphemisms are words or expressions that speakers substitute for taboo words in order to avoid a direct connotations with topics that are embarrassing, frightening or uncomfortable: God, the devil, sex, death, money, war, crime or religion. These topics seem to be cross cultural. A linguistic consequence of cultural taboos is the creation of euphemisms.

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The euphemism as a linguistic phenomenon shows no signs of disappearing. In present-day English euphemisms are mostly based on some social and ethical standard of behavior, on the desire not to hurt people‘s feelings (lodger- paying guest), to soften painful news, and very often superstition. A prominent source of synonymic attraction is still furnished by interjections and swearing address to God. Euphemisms always tend to be a source of new formations because after a short period of use the new term becomes so closely connected with the notion that it turns into a word as obnoxious as the earlier synonym.

The aim of our work is to investigate the sources , the use and translation of euphemisms. We concentrate our attention on political texts. Euphemisms are difficult for the non- native speaker to learn in isolation from their original source. Grouping of euphemisms into categories according to a particular theme facilitates the process of learning. In my diploma paper we have set forth to study the use and translation of euphemisms and doubletalk in modern political articles at a deeper level, their types and ways of their translation from English into Russian in everyday life of humanity.

The objective of the work is an attempt to study all the aspects of euphemisms and doubletalk, the cases of their usage and to analyze the frequency and variability of euphemisms and double talk usage referring to different social fields in various sources. To achieve the set aim we determined the following tasks: – to search the origin of euphemisms ; – to study the problem of euphemisms; – to understand the aim of the modern usage of euphemisms; – to distinguish different kinds of euphemisms; – to study the ways of formation of euphemisms; to analyze the political sources for the presence of euphemisms; – to investigate difficulties and peculiarities while processing translation of euphemisms.

The work consists of Introduction, three chapters, conclusion and annex. Chapter I is a theoretical one. Here we speak about the euphemisms and their influence on the ambiguity of a sentence and present different classifications of euphemisms. We also investigate the connection of euphemisms and logic, equivocal words and ambiguity. Chapter II is an analytical one.

This chapter deals with the sources of appearance of euphemisms. We speak here about the language of political correctness which is often the main source of euphemisms. We also investigate equivocal words, obscurity and officialese because they also help euphemisms to appear in the language. It reveals the role of ambiguities in articles about religion, of social issues and politics. Euphemistic language develops in the process of communication and depending on by whom it is used, in what situation, in what society. The subject of communication plays an important role in using of a language.

Tendencies of language suppose a various lexis and intonation depending on with whom you communicate. We communicate with the help of words, mimes, gestures, Manners of communication have a great meaning too. It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It. Double talk is a language deliberately constructed to disguise its actual meaning, usually from government, military. It is a newspaper language. It is devoted to the investigation connected with the different approaches to the classification of idioms, their structural and semantic characteristics. Chapter III is the practical one.

It is the most important chapter, which represents a detailed investigation of translation euphemisms that cause ambiguities. It reveals the role of the political articles in everyday life of the humanity which are believed to be interesting and useful for future translator. It also reveals the methods of translation of political articles with purpose to make it easier for translator to achieve adequate translation into the native language. It also gives some hints at translation of terms and set expression and their behavior in political literature.

We think the role of euphemisms and double talk represents a great value for their exploring and that issue which we reveal in my diploma thesis is very actual in our political life. Language is a soul of a man. It is necessary not only to transmit every word, thought, but also to express the emotive state and courage of certain article; to save its national color and expressiveness having set out a system of the language and peculiarities of foreign speech with the help of the native language. People have to broaden without bounds their opportunities of translation, to create irreproachable and immense torehouses of information. The main methods of research are descriptive, comparative, the method of analysis and synthesis. But we consider that the study of euphemisms is impossible without using contextual-logical analysis.

In The King’s English euphemism is defined as the ‘substitution of mild or vague expression for harsh or blunt one’. In The Romance of Words, Professor Ernest Weekley speaks of euphemism as ‘that form of speech which avoids calling things by their names’ and observes that it results from ‘various human instincts which range from religious reverence down to common decency’. Often, I fear, it springs from nothing so decent as either reverence or decency: too often it is an indication of prudery or an exaggerated genteelism.

It is quite clear that if there were no synonyms, there would be no euphemisms – and no obscenity ( Rees N. ,2007,p. 77). If it were made compulsory to use one word and one word only for ‘to defecate’, ‘to urinate’, ‘to die’, ‘to kill’, ‘to copulate’, and their nouns, as well as for certain bodily parts (especially the genitals), the squeamish would be reduced to using gestures and then, by force of public opinion and by a growing shamefacedness, to employing the sole terms. The same thing would apply to obscenities, which, after that all, represent merely the polar counterparts of euphemisms.

But let us pass from speculation to fact. Three writers have written pertinently and clearly and suggestively on the subject: Professors I. Allen, Umberto Eco, and Professor V. Zegarac. I. Allen pointed out that, contrary to rather general impression, ‘one of the most distinctive features of sophisticated speech, as distinguished from unsophisticated speech in our time, is the absence of squeamishness and the ready courage to name things directly’.

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