the new "euphemism"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Dec 23 05:32:37 UTC 2013

On Dec 22, 2013, at 9:28 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> At 12/22/2013 06:26 PM, George Thompson wrote:
>> However....
>> LH's point that "euphemisms for the vagina" are not the same as "euphemisms
>> for 'vagina'" shows a subtlety of thought that goes beyond where the writer
>> in the Times I quoted can follow.
> I agree there's a distinction, if only because I can't figure out
> what "euphemisms for the vagina" can mean.  Larry, can you try again?
> Joel
OK, but I suspect it won't convince youse anymore than the last time.  A euphemism for the vagina is a euphemistic term used to refer to the vagina (again, we're really talking the vulva here, but bear with me).  By virtue of being a euphemistic term, it replaces a taboo term (or, if you prefer, dirty word) that the speaker thereby avoids; here, the natural candidate is the word "cunt".  So it's a euphemism that *replaces* "cunt" *for* the vagina/vulva.  Similarly, "go the bathroom" or (in my childhood) "have a B.M." are euphemisms referring to the act of defecation--not because "defecate" or "defecation" are taboo words but because these periphrases stand in for "shit", which is.


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