How many layers of obfuscation on the average euphemism?

James A. Landau <> JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Tue Mar 13 14:10:33 UTC 2012

On  Mon, 12 Mar 2012 12:42:44 -0500 Larry Sheldon <LarrySheldon at COX.NET> wrote:

>The question came to mind trying to parse (decode?  decrypt?)
>"rightsized", which you might mistakenly think from context is something
>done to a company, but is actually a way of making a human being
>"Rightsized" hides the depressor in "downsized".
>"Downsized" obfuscates the implied humanity in "layed off" or
>Here the track gets hard to read:  "layed off" seems to be an attempt to
>de-sting "fired" which has taken on an aura of misbehavior that it did
>not have in times past. But it picks up a vague stench of "cast away",
>"discarded", "shitcanned" while "furloughed" wants the listener to
>believe that the person chose this action because it is such a good
>idea, like a "vacation".

On the contrary.  There is a real distinction between "laid off", "fired", and "furloughed".

At least there is in New Jersey.

In New Jersey if you are "fired" it is for cause (misbehavior).  If your employment is terminated other than for cause, then you are "laid off".  The distinction:  if you are laid off, you are entitled to receive unemployment benefits *immediately*.  If you are fired, you have to go through a hearing---a process that takes weeks---by the state before you can receive unemployment benefits (assuming the hearing decides in yur favor).

If you are suddenly out of a job, that is a significant difference.

"Furlough" does not mean "fired" or even "laid off".  A furlough is *temporary*.  A return-to-employment date must be specified, else it is not a furlough.  Listen to news reports: "XYZ Corp. laid off one hundred workers" (permanent end to the their jobs) versus "XYZ Corp. furloughed 100 workers for six weeks".

In addition, sometimes furloughed workers receive partial pay or other benefits to encourage them to be available for re-employment once the furlough period ends.

Please do not snear at the above as "bureaucratic details".  The distinctions are significant to the finances of anyone who is no longer employed.

Also, the participle is "laid off".  "Layed off" is something a bricklayer does with a new row of brioks.

Aside to someone: "interned" does not always mean "worked as an intern".  In wartime it is a type of confinement for nationals of a warring country by a neutral country, e.g. when the German warship Graf Spee was cornered in the neutral port of Montevideo, Uruguary, during World War II, the ship was blown up and the crew, rather than becoming POWs, were interned by the Uruguayans.

     - Jim Landau

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