disameliorative effect of euphemisms

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Mar 2 06:29:17 UTC 2001

At 11:50 AM -0500 3/2/01, Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM wrote:
>Referring to feces as "shit" or "crap" may be vulgar, but it does not lower
>the attributed status of the referent in any way and therefore is not
>pejorative. On the other hand, referring to someone's possessions or
>writing as "shit" or "crap" --
>      Get your shit out of my house today!
>      I don't read his crap any more.
>-- IS pejorative, because it equates the thing referred to with something
>undesireable, something worse than what it is (Latin "peior" 'worse').
And then there's the ameliorative use, as in (or so I'm told):

[long exhale] "Oh wow, that's some great shit--Guatemalan?"

or even

"You've really got your shit together."

Curiously, "crap" seems a lot harder to ameliorate.


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