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

Geoffrey Nunberg nunberg at ISCHOOL.BERKELEY.EDU
Tue Jul 12 04:28:45 UTC 2011

Yeah, this makes sense, since the contexts in which people see the words are always going to involve this kind of opposition and presumably the reanalysis is going to be no broader than it has to be. Though there are apparently some people for whom "euphemism" really does mean just "synonym":

"the term negro has no recollect in arab culture and only fits in judaeo-christian context(reference terms blue blood(sangre de siempre, moriscos, mulattos,moros were whiteness and christianess meant the same thing and were euphemisms of each other…"

But you can find anything on the web if you look for it. (It reminds me of what Umberto Eco said about America: "What a country -- you can find everything in America. You can even find communists in America.")


> 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!
> 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.
> LH
>> 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/

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