The hidden danger of euphemisms

Source: BBC

By Mark Peters

Euphemisms! They’re the worst. Or I should I say they’re a negative outcome benchmark?

Euphemistic language is the timeless enemy of anyone concerned with clarity. Straight shooters such as novelist George Orwell and comedian George Carlin have blasted soft, vague language, including Carlin’s classic lament that shellshock devolved into battle fatigue, then operational exhaustion, before finally morphing into the mouthful post-traumatic stress disorder.

There was recent outrage in the US over the Trump administration using alternative facts as a smokescreen for false or untrue statements. Other euphemisms are merely annoying, like when teachers call student weaknesses development opportunities.

Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway (Credit: Getty Images)

There was outrage in the US over the Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway using the term alternative facts as a smokescreen for untrue statements (Credit: Getty Images)

Euphemisms are everywhere, but they tend to cluster within taboo subjects such as death, sex, and drugs—and giving people the axe, as no corporation would say. Few topics have accumulated as many euphemisms as the action called downsizing, making redundant, laying off, demising, and even absurd, clunky phrases like personnel surplus reduction. When businesses mask their actions with vague, robotic language, both clarity and people are the big losers.

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Categories: America, The Muslim Times, USA

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