Euphemism: The substitution of an inoffensive term for one considered offensively explicit. – American Heritage Dictionary, New College Edition
Jill Stein is not yet a household name in America, though one recent poll places her as the choice of 2 percent of potential voters in the upcoming presidential election.
She is the Green Party candidate, and as such, she obviously is trying to protect and clean up the environment and, in her own fashion, keep our language clean, as well.
Or is she?
Watching her on a recent TV news report, she said this:
“We say to Donald Trump, we don’t need no friggin’ law; we just got to stop invading other countries.”
Rather eloquent, even for a politician.
In her tirade, Ms. Stein employed a word that is rapidly becoming a common part of public discourse. There are many substitutions, or euphemisms, for the “F” word, but some of them, like the one Stein used, are nearly as offensive as the word substituted. Webster’s defines it as “to copulate with, usually considered vulgar.”
Freakin’ is competing with friggin’ for top euphemistic honors.
It’s not just television that has lowered its standards.
An Associated Press story in May reported that only two of more than 700 offers by South Dakota landowners were accepted into the Conservation Reserve Program. That prompted this outburst from Dave Nomsen, who heads the Pheasants Forever South Dakota regional office:
“It’s just frick’n unbelievable,” said Nomsen, as quoted by the AP.
Add a third word to “F” word euphemisms.
Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between a euphemism and political correctness. We say burly when we mean fat, mentally challenged when we mean stupid, in a family way instead of pregnant, physically challenged instead of crippled, and economically disadvantaged instead of poor.
The list is a lengthy one, and it is not to say all euphemisms are bad. A couple of generations ago, an illegitimate child was known as a “bastard,” a term rarely heard today except as an expletive used in anger. “Illegitimate” was a softer replacement of the descriptive word that wounded the person who had nothing whatsoever to do with his birth.
Now “illegitimate” and “out of wedlock” are being phased out, giving way to “love child” or the avoidance of any reference at all.
Euphemisms also can be humorous. Undertakers, I mean morticians, uh, funeral directors sometimes refer to the viewing room as a “slumber room” where the deceased lies in a coffin, er, casket.
Sept. 14, 2016