"vulgar euphemism" (cf "uterus" & "slut")

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jul 12 02:50:02 UTC 2011

On Jul 9, 2011, at 1:29 PM, Arnold Zwicky wrote:

> On Jul 9, 2011, at 9:54 AM, Geoff Nunberg wrote:
>> I first noticed this one in the Washington Times report of George W Bush's description of the NYT's Adam Clymer as a "major-league asshole," which inadvertently went over the mic at a campaign event in 2000:
>> Mounting a stage in Naperville, Ill., Mr. Bush spied among those gathered a reporter for the New York Times whom he regards as hostile to his campaign and said to Mr. Cheney: "There's Adam Clymer - a major-league [deleted]," employing a vulgar euphemism for a rectal aperture.
> a note on "euphemism" 'word for':
> http://arnoldzwicky.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/euphemisms/
I'm not sure it's quite a matter of "euphemism" being employed as interchangeable with "synonym", as Geoff suggests in his full message (although he added that it includes "some added element of meaning" that's hard to pin down).  I would be surprised (but not shocked anymore) to find, say "purchase" being described as a euphemism for "buy" or vice versa.  The examples cited by both Geoff and Arnold tend to involve dysphemisms (where "euphemism" may simply be used as a neutralization of "euphemism" and "dysphemism", i.e. "phemism" tout court) or perhaps reversals, along the lines of our previous discussions of "replace"/"substitute" or inverted "let alone"/"much less".  On this view, either a true euphemism ("penis" is a euphemism for "cock") or the word requiring a true euphemism ("cock" is a euphemism for "penis") would count.  As with the other cases of reversals involving converses (e.g. "substitute X for/with Y"), the context will usually determine which of the paired i!
 tems is the true euphemism (in the original sense of the term.  A related case, now taken for granted:  *namesake*.  If I am named for my grandfather I can be referred to as his namesake, or he as mine.


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list