all-purpose euphemism

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Dec 15 17:29:34 UTC 2006

"Alternative medicine" means whatever no physician would ever prescribe. Likewise  "alternative therapies."

  "Throughout the nineteenth century, various forms of resistance to and disempowerment of alternative knowledge or [sic] knowledge makers were conspicuously present, as the ecology of knowledge had not yet assumed its more framiliar and modern configuration."
  --Otniel E. Dror, in Robert D. Johnston, ed., _The Politics of Healing_  (Routledge, 2004), p. 77.

  Remember "a Yaqui way of knowing" ?

  "The Alternative Knowledge Maker"  [hyphen ad lib.]

Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Laurence Horn
Subject: all-purpose euphemism

OK, we have our euphemistic situations and our issues, not to mention
our euphemistic substances, but a more flexible device is
"alternative", which ranges from our administration's "alternative
interrogation techniques" from a few months ago to a fairly
well-established use that I was reminded of by a Yale Daily News
piece this week. Entitled "Nightclubs come out [heh heh] with
gay-friendly gigs", with the subhead "More establishments cater to
growing LGBT market", the article describes the practice of how some
of the local bars and nightclubs have recently initiated "alternative
nights". This is presumably related to the equally euphemistic and
perhaps more offensive "alternative lifestyle". I see from googling
that alternative nights elsewhere allude to those that feature
alternative music (in which case it's not really a euphemism) or,
well, substance-free events, i.e. specifically non-alcoholic ones (in
which case it's a different--or, if you prefer, an


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