SLY SLURS: EUPHEMISMS AND CODEWORDS
SLY SLURS ALSO appear as codewords and euphemisms. A codeword is usually an innocent-sounding term substituted for an unacceptable term, such as a slur, and the motive is usually mischief Good, though naive intentions, on the other hand, usually lie behind euphemisms. A euphemism is a word that is used to avoid another word thought to be too direct, blunt, harsh, or offensive. Hugh Rawson in A Dictionary of Euphemisms & Other Doubletalk ( 1981) tells how terms such as culturally deprived, underprivileged, disadvantaged, minority group, and minority, and even the word poor, are euphemisms for poor black and Spanish-speaking Americans.
The good people in the so-called helping professions are justly satirized for the euphemisms they coin and use for impoverished segments of ethnic groups. Most such euphemisms and codewords are or eventually become thinly disguised allusions to those several groups who are disproportionately among the lowest-income segments of the population.
The Second Barnhart Dictionary of New English ( 1980) points out that "a paradoxical feature of euphemisms is that when the character or meaning of what they describe catches up with the euphemism itself they lose their character as sub-