How many layers of obfuscation on the average euphemism?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Mar 13 14:41:40 UTC 2012

At 3/13/2012 10:10 AM, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at> wrote:

>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
> >disappear.
> >
> >"Rightsized" hides the depressor in "downsized".
> >
> >"Downsized" obfuscates the implied humanity in "layed off" or
> >"furloughed".
> >
> >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.

But not in the two newspapers I read, the NY Times and the Boston
Globe.  There "fired" is frequently used when employees lose
(misplace? perhaps another euphemism) their jobs due to economic
difficulties of their employer.  I suspect the same will be heard on
news broadcasts.


>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
>Netscape.  Just the Net You Need.
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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