Euphemism is called a stylistic device, which is somewhat glossed over, instead of naming it directly. Euphemism can be found in all literary genres, as well as in everyday conversation. The stylistic figure can be deliberately used to trivialize a state of affairs and make it appear insignificant.
The term can be derived from the Greek (εὐφημία ~ euphēmía) and means in words of good meaning. The translation of the stylistic figure alone shows what is at stake: a disgrace of the facts, by which unwelcome words are combined with pleasant associations.
There is no particular subject area where euphemism is particularly common. However, there are numerous examples in politics and the economy, in order to deliberately obscure some aspects or to put them in a positive light. However, in everyday situations, we also come across a variety of examples of the use of stylistic means → speech analysis
Was it bad in the hospital last night?
It was sad, but Grandpa slept peacefully.
The two interlocutors talked about the death of their grandfather. But instead of saying that he died, the second person replies that he has slept peacefully. This statement is thus a palliation of the concept of dying.
Note: The counterpart of euphemism is dysphema, also called cacophemism. In this case, the title is intentionally negative. In the example above, the answer would perhaps be “Oh, it was corrosive in the hospital. But at last he is finally dead! ”
Where do we find euphemisms?
Basically, euphemisms can be made in texts of all kinds. However, there are areas where euphemisms can be used much more frequently and thus can be found.
This means that euphemism is not simply confined to literary works, but is used everywhere in linguistic everyday life. The talk here is of sensitive categories or tabooted areas of life, which are reluctantly named. Uncomfortable facts are often expressed by glossing terms. Let us look at an example from everyday life.
What does your wife say about this Claudia?
Nothing! This is only so’ne bed story.
In the above example, person A asks for a certain Claudia. Then person B replies that this is only a bed story and thus glosses over the fact that this is a sexual relationship and he deliberately deceives his wife. Let’s look at an example from politics.
As a spokesman told the portal word growth,
the peace process has stalled in the Middle East.
This is a pretty good example of euphemism. The statement does not really express what it means and veils the negative. There is talk of a process of peace (process ~ development, progress), which no longer develops. In other words, when peace has been shaken, there is war. Let’s look at an example from the economy.
Putin goes all-out in the Crimean crisis,
Russia’s economy is threatening a zero growth.
The notion of zero growth has become a common term in modern times, to say that the economy of a country does not grow. The word describes a situation in which the gross domestic product has not changed over a certain period of time. Another word for it would be stagnation (Latin stagnation).
However, the term is enormously enhanced by the connection with the term growth and has a far more positive effect at first glance or when listening. So it is only indirectly said that the economy is lame and the development is still. A clear euphemism.
Frequently it is topics such as sexuality, illness or death that are glossed over by the choice of words. But, of course, things that insult people and cross borders can be alleviated by euphemism, or content can be said only by the flower (politics, economy).
Note: Euphemism is a cross-disciplinary phenomenon, which is why a precise definition of the term is difficult. This means that it must be decided on a case-by-case basis, whether it is a question of whether or not this is the case.
Euphemism in rhetoric
If we look at the stylistic figure as a rhetorical figure, however, we must clearly name it as a means of improper speech. This means that it expresses something only indirectly.
Thus, the stylistic means replaces one term or even several by other words, which are perceived as less offensive, attenuating or even beautifying. This means can be used by the speaker in a targeted way to distract the audience from a situation.
Note: Negative connotations are replaced by positive connotations. The word connotation means in linguistics the secondary meaning of a linguistic expression or, in other words, the content which we associate with a concept.
Function and effect of euphemisms
Of course, it is difficult to attribute a clear effect or function to a stylistic device. Nevertheless, there are usually reasons why it is used. We want to name these.
If we find such a reason within a text, so we can explain why the stylistic is used, we speak of the motive or the intention of the speaker. In this context, three areas can be identified that can be used as a motive for euphemism.
Overview of function and effect of the style figure
Appreciation of a situation
Often there are quite different expressions for one thing. A different term is used for the meaning. In this way, either the design itself can be intentionally appreciated or better represented, or something directly related to it.
For example, African Americans instead of black people, disabled people instead of disabled.
Mitigating a situation
Furthermore, euphemisms may have a mitigating or mitigating effect. In this form, the stylistic means is used in order not to offend the recipient or to make the narrative appear less drastic. Frequently, euphemism is used to show courtesy, respect, or even consideration.
For example bed history instead of affair or zero growth instead of stagnation.
Disguise and deception
If the euphemism is used in this form, what is said is expressed in such a way that what is meant is almost not clear at all. Such uses are often found in speeches in totalitarian systems. The obscuration can serve to prevent indignation and is used to conceal specific situations → speech analysis, argument types
Further examples of euphemism
A stylistic figure is best illustrated by numerous examples. We would like to list some euphemisms as an example.
Since we have all the essential information on euphemism in the above contribution, the collected examples follow in list form. So you are not commenting on us, and it should be clear that it is all about beautifying a concept.
Note: Many of the following formulations are also used in assessments (practical reports or testimonials) and are, at most, a nice transcription for a negative adjective.
General practitioner ANSTATT General practitioner
External staff representative
Caretaker ANSTATT guardian
Educational OFFERS Dumb
Domizil ANSTATT residential or commercial house
Eloquent conversation partner STATT Vielreiter, bad listener
Extracted ANSTATT Vorlaut
Facility Manager ANSTATT Caretaker
Conferences DISCOVER CENSORS
Freudenhaus ANSTATT Puff or brothel
Homecoming INSTITUTION Death
Industrial park ANSTATT business units
CORPULENT INSTRUCTIONS bold
Correct INSTRUCTIONS Pedantic, know-it-all
Cost intensive INSTITUTE Expensive
Creative accounting ANSTATT Balance sheet counterfeiting
Farmer ANSTATT Bauer
Lines, facial expressions
Liquidate INSTITUTE Kill
The most important thing about euphemism at a glance
Euphemism is a stylistic device of rhetoric, and it is a glossing concept that expresses only in part what it actually means.
The stylistic figure can be used softening, homage or disguised, thus influencing the conversation partner or recipient of an embassy.
It is sometimes necessary to pay attention to the context in order to assess whether a term is used euphemistically or is not to be evaluated in this context.