Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Euphemisms and Dysphemisms

Euphemisms and dysphemism are two related deceptive features of language in which one changes the impact of what one says through word choice. In the case of a euphemism, one substitutes a word that has positive emotional associations for a word that has negative or neutral emotional associations ('ethnic cleansing' for 'genocide'). A dysphemism is just the opposite; substituting  a word with negative emotional associations for a word with positive or neutral associations ('partial-birth abortion' for 'intact dilation and extraction'). Perhaps the best discussion of this topic can be found in the following video segment from the late, great George Carlin:

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