Political dysphemisms

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Aug 17 13:55:43 UTC 2009

At 11:28 PM -0400 8/16/09, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>On Sun, Aug 16, 2009 at 10:21 PM, Herb Stahlke <hfwstahlke at gmail.com> wrote:
>>  On Sun, Aug 16, 2009 at 8:39 PM, Laurence
>>Horn<laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
>>  >
>>  > At 6:30 PM -0400 8/16/09, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>  >>I thought dysphemisms and euphemisms were different.
>>  >
>>  > I was just about to wonder the same thing.  "Partial birth abortion"
>>  > is presumably a dysphemism, as is "death tax".  "Clear skies
>>  > initiative" and "healthy forests initiative" are clearly *euphemisms*.
>>  I agree.  I think I gave in to the function of both in political
>>  discourse, namely, to dupe.
>It's all "framing" these days-- and the most successful framers are
>simultaneously euphemizers and dysphemizers. Thus Frank Luntz
>euphemizes with "energy exploration" (vs oil drilling) and "electronic
>intercepts" (vs eavesdropping), and dysphemizes with "death tax" (vs
>estate tax) and "government takeover" (vs government-run health care).

Or vs. "public health care"/"national health care".  In Britain it's
not "government health" but "national health".  I don't know what the
Canadian version is called (in Canada, I mean; here it's called
"socialist").  And then there was the social security brouhaha, with
"privatized" vs. I forget what.


>--Ben Zimmer
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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