LINGUIST List 7.954

Sun Jun 30 1996

Disc: Euphemization (as PC)

Editor for this issue: T. Daniel Seely <>


  1., Euphemization (as PC)

Message 1: Euphemization (as PC)

Date: Thu, 27 Jun 1996 20:10:00 CDT
From: <>
Subject: Euphemization (as PC)
I hesitate to conspire in perpetuating the discussion of PC as it's
going, for I think Benji has summarized quite well, but there's a
linguistic twist which seems not to have been explored, euphemization.
This could, perhaps, be described as having effect at two levels:
1) the--for some--merely annoying level of deliberately not calling
whatever it is what it is for the sake of avoiding real or imagined
offense (e.g. calling foreign students international students, which
seems to have become accepted at most US universities); 2) same motive,
but in contexts in which precision may be crucial. An example of the
latter was evident in the OJ trial, when reference was made to African-
American hair found at a relevant location, and I've heard the
same terminology used since in other crime cases.
Taken literally, this obviously excludes African-Canadian, African-British,
non-modified African, etc. The question for Language and Law people is
whether this sort of euphemization is troublesome in legal proceedings
(has always been/is increasingly so?) and if so, how it's handled. To the
linguistic community as a whole I would ask if this sort of thing is common
everywhere by now, or mainly a US (North American?) phenomenon.
Tom Cravens
- -----------------------------------------------------------
Dept of French and Italian
618 Van Hise Hall			phone: 608-262-6522
University of Wisconsin-Madison		fax: 608-265-3892	
Madison, WI 53706
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue