Euphemisms Intro

What aren't we talking about?!? Join me to learn what euphemisms are, and how they vary by cultural norms.

Visual Description: White woman with salt and pepper asymmetrical hair signs outside. There is a clear blue sky, a fence running at a diagonal behind her, and a small garden in the distance.

Transcript: I’ve been thinking recently about euphemisms. It’s an integral part of hearing culture to not talk about things directly, or make nice, or to talk around things instead of talking about them directly. We still know what we’re talking about, but try not to say it directly if we don’t have to. It also helps us keep our conversations private from others.

This led me to start thinking about the word “euphemism” and where it comes from and what the root words mean. So I did some intensive research, by which I mean I looked on Wikipedia, and found that “eu” means “good” while “phemia” in Greek stands for “word” or “speech” or “prophesy” or even “gossip”. This is also where morpheme and phoneme come from for all my fellow linguists out there! It all comes back to language! If we put together the “good” from “eu” and the “language” from “phemia” - we get “good word”, “good language” or “good gossip”.

This is the way that we use to gloss over something that is happening. It seems if we see or experience something we don’t want to talk about, we find subtler ways to mention it instead. It becomes more implicit and far less explicit. Again - this is the norm for hearing culture or at least the American hearing culture in which I was raised. We talk “around” these ideas instead of bringing them up directly!

This means I have a multitude of English examples for euphemisms (I should really practice spelling that more!) so I am going to record some videos to walk through some of the English euphemisms that we use to avoid talking about some concepts directly.

At the same time, I’d love your input for what people in the Deaf or signing communities who grew up signing used to talk about things without talking about them directly or to keep your conversations more private from prying eyes. I’d love your feedback!

This was my way to start with the general concept of what euphemisms mean and how we use them to talk about things that our culture says is too blunt, or disgusting, or dirty or whatever it may be that we use to get out of talking about what we don’t feel like is appropriate to talk about. We use these to make our conversations nice or polite due to societal expectations.

For this next series, I’m going to be recording several videos about some of the common euphemisms that we use in English and what they are substitutes for. I’d still love to get your feedback too! Thanks and take care!

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