More euphemisms: "pervasive language"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Mar 16 23:28:15 UTC 2012

...or my favorite euphemistic narrowing, "substance-free" (dorms, residence halls, floors), which doesn't denote living in a vacuum.  But really no different from "suggestive", inter alia.


On Mar 16, 2012, at 6:58 PM, Neal Whitman wrote:

> Although this phrase is new to me, I take it to be the same semantic narrowing of "language" to mean "offensive or obscene language" as you get in movies that are rated PG for "mild language":
> Neal
> On Mar 16, 2012, at 5:59 PM, "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>> Subject:      More euphemisms:  "pervasive language"
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> From the capsule attached to a review of the movie "21 Jump Street"
>> by Wesley Morris in today's Boston Globe:
>> Rated: R (crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug
>> material, teen drinking, and some violence)"
>> About 1,520,000 Ghits, the first few asking (and alleging) what it
>> means but many referring to other concepts.  And apparently standard
>> -- part of the code?; other newspapers use the same phrase about the
>> same movie (GNews).  The phrase seems to go back to about 1994 in
>> this context (GNews), but is hard to trace for this sense in GBooks.
>> So Morris did not mean "perverse".  Perhaps he meant "persuasive" --
>> influencing someone into underage sex.  In a movie about the Catholic
>> Church, "pervasive language" would be repeated exchanges of "Bless
>> you, Father;" "Bless you, my son".
>> I also wonder what is R about "drug material".  Surely more than just
>> seeing it.
>> Joel
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