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Euphemisms vs. Just Plain English

Updated on April 27, 2013
Beer and Mexican food will do this.
Beer and Mexican food will do this.

The simpler the better

I wonder if other languages attempt to confuse the masses with this concept. While reading George Carlin's last book When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?, I was given an education in the use of euphemisms in the English language by one of my favourite philosophers. He, like me, prefers just plain English.

Don't call them pastilles, troches or throat lozenges. They are cough drops. Don't call it attachment parenting. It is being an overprotective mother or father.

I offer the following description of the word euphemism (which I have great trouble spelling or pronouncing, by the way).

Euphemism: a series of words that are used to redefine a simple product or idea in such a way as to confuse or suggest implied improvements (that are not present) to the reader or viewer and, therefore, muddy the understanding of the idea or attempt to justify the increased selling price of the product. (I think George would have approved of this definition).

What do you think the chances of a troche selling for a higher price than a cough drop are? You will have to go to a "specialist" to truly learn attachment parenting while a local truck stop will be a good place to learn about overprotective parents. I am sure you will need both an appointment and a large bank account to go to the "specialist". The truck drivers may even buy you a beer unless you offer one of them a troche or pastille. They might give you something to cough about that no cough drop will help.

Here is another example of euphemisms and their simpler and much more understandable word choices. (For some reason, it should be euphonism for me. Maybe because it implies "you phony thing" to me. In either case, they are both meaningless to me because they are much closer to being lies and I don't like to lie.)

Automotive climate control system is the heater, air conditioner or rolling down the window and driving faster in the summer or putting on your ski jacket and gloves in the winter with the windows rolled up unless someone tries to increase the internal temperature by expelling gases (farting is the correct word). Then it is acceptable to roll down the windows temporarily to "control the climate".

Hopefully, you aren't driving a recently acquired "pre-owned vehicle" because that is the used car dealership's way of justifying charging more for what is just a simple used vehicle in plain English.

Another fairly recent automotive advertising phrase I have seen for North American cars is re-imagining luxury. Personally, I think it is another failed attempt at trying to justify overly large cars with all the whistles and bells (that don't sell well in today's economy). The update here is just overloading a little smaller car with far too many unnecessary additions that justify a higher sticker price in an attempt to compete with European counterparts.

Marketing people spend a lot of time trying to come up with phrases that make a simple product seem like it has a greater value so a higher selling price is justified in their eyes. Has a hint of lying to it, don't you think?


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