Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Corpus Analysis of English Euphemism in College English (3)

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Corpus Analysis of English Euphemism in College English (3)

Article excerpt


Euphemism, a linguistic and cultural phenomenon, which serves as a lubricant in people's communication, has aroused much interest among scholars worldwide. Many researches on euphemism have already been done in different fields, such as in daily conversations, intercultural communication, advertisements, science, literature, business affairs, etc. For a long time, the researches on English euphemism have been done in terms of semantics, rhetoric and pragmatics, yet few analyzes its usage in textbook. This article attempts to make some analysis of the usage of euphuism in textbook for non-English majors. Then it comes up with some suggestions to teachers concerning how to teach English euphemism in classroom, hoping that this thesis can raise the teachers' and students' awareness of euphemism in English learning and that the suggestions can benefit both teachers and students.

Keywords: English euphemism, analysis, College English, suggestion

1. Introduction

Euphemism is not only a common strategy in people's language using, but also a kind of cultural phenomenon. Having a great effect on people's daily communication, it can make a harsh topic softer and an embarrassed conversation agreeable while adhering to social communicative conventions. In other words, it saves the faces of both sides and enable people to communicate successfully. From the moment of its emergence, euphemism plays the part of avoiding embarrassment and taboos, showing politeness and concealing feelings. People use euphemism because they fear something and tend to avoid talking about something. With the development of modern society, euphemism has become an indispensable element in people's interactions.

Scholars have an intensive interest in euphemism and have made outstanding contributions to the study of euphemistic expressions. Many researches on euphemism have already been done in different fields, such as daily conversations, intercultural communication, science, literature, business affairs and even media language like newspaper and advertisement. Although many of these studies has referred to the euphemistic strategies in English teaching, but few has been carried out with its using in English textbook. So it is very significant and necessary to conduct a research in this filed.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Major Research in Western Countries

The word "euphemism" was first used in early 1580s by British writer George Blunt in his Glossographia (1656), where he defined it as "a good or favorable interpretation of a bad word". H. L. Menken carried out a rather detailed analysis of how and why so many euphemisms came into being and became voguish in his book. In 1981, British linguist Hugh Rawson compiled A Dictionary of Euphemisms and Other Double-talk, where he divided euphemisms into positive and negative euphemisms, and conscious and unconscious euphemisms, in addition to a thorough description of the meaning, etymology of each euphemism and its relation to other terms in his dictionary. In 1983, American scholars J. S. Neaman and C. G Silver published another Kind Words: A Thesaurus of Euphemisms that added more detailed description of the history, formation and motives of euphemism.

D. J. Enright (1985)'s Fair of speech, the Use of Euphemism discussed the use of euphemism in one specific domain and put forward that the history of euphemism should be studied within context. Similar focus could also been seen in John Ayto's (1993) Euphemisms in which he pointed out "the euphemistic force of a word is often heavily dependent on its context". Similarly, Allan and Burridge (1991) published a book Euphemism and Dysphemism, which offers a functional account of the various expressions of euphemism and dysphemism from a pragmatic perspective. It states that an interesting perspective on the human psyche is to be gained from the study of euphemism used "as a protective shield against the anger or disapproval of natural or supernatural beings" (1991). …

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