22 October, 2007

Euphemism Eulogy

Note: Don't be scared to run to the ol' Oxford. It'll enrich your knowledge of your my favourite language, really.

Note: Having gotten a number of complaints about the sheer incomprehensibility of this post, I have attempted to put together a glossary of the expressions used here.

There are some things which indisputably add colour to The English LanguageTM. Two of them are euphemisms and idioms. The latter encompasses too broad a territory to be given justice in so short a piece. Euphemisms, however aplenty they appear to occur, are of limited scope but unlimited interest. So without further waffle, let us embark on the journey through the land of doublespeak- so to speak.

The euphemisms I'll talk about fall into three categories: 'sleeping with the devil', being 'put to sleep', and... well, sleeping, in the inappropriate sense of the word. With due respect to the departed, fraternizing usually takes the cake for the most number of euphemisms associated with a single act, and the neighbouring territories thereof. But I'll start with the least impressive act of the three... that of the Right, the Left and their being bull(ie)s on someone else's farmland, so to speak.

While most governments are under fire by their subjects for stuff like 'revenue enhancements', or their propensity to spread 'disinformation', their most disliked activities have to do with 'armed intervention'. To 'liberate' the 'freedom fighters' in the other country, the 'enemy' is 'pacified' and it's infrastructure is 'neutralised', resulting in widescale 'collateral damage'. 'Concentration camps', or 'relocation centres' arise. The attacked country is irreversibly put into a state of 'political unrest', while the 'liberator' puts the captured enemy 'terrorists' into 'correctional facilities', where they are subjected to 'enhanced interrogation techniques'. I admit I wasn't too humorous on this topic, but leave it to the experts, so to speak.

Lest you think I will continue to babble about things not entirely sunny, I'll come to a much brighter subject than politics, adroitly handled by the Pythons in their famous Dead Parrot Sketch. I'll admit going over to the other side isn't an exactly pleasant experience, but eternal rest ought to be richer than the previous topic. It is, after all, a debt we must all pay. Meeting your maker ought to be a delightful experience. We learnt these expressions (although maybe not their meaning) when we were still children, and visited the funeral director to look at grandpa soundly sleeping, with out parents assuring us that he had gone to the sweet hereafter, joined the angels, gone to a place "far far away". (Ok, then why is his body still here?) Well, we all are going to shed out mortal skin one day, and visit Davy Jones' locker. Here is a list of euphemisms for sleeping with the fishes. I, for one, am not that eager to kick the bucket so soon, and go to the big glass house in the sky, and earn my 6inch-by-8inch of fame, so to speak.

Finally, let us engage ourselves in a game of carnal knowledge, and let loose our basis instinct. The number of euphemistic phrases for getting intimate is practically unlimited, but I'll be a prick and indulge my senses in just the most colourful ones. Hanky-panky has been the subject of debate for centuries, although everyone longs to make whoopee with the well-endowed woman at the bar. Attempted self-fertilisation may be more common, since not everyone has a chance to get busy so often. In fact, many in my class haven't even attended the inaugural ball yet. I wont deny, though, that there are many playboys who sleep around often. In fact, a bit of the ol' in-and-out won't hurt anybody, eh? I'm all for consummating the relationship, people. I'm out of legitimate sentences in which to fit the list for making ends meet, if you get my drift, so I'll just give you a link for it. Now excuse me while I answer nature's call, so to speak.

Links: Idioms list
Euphemisms lists: 1 2

P.S. Also check out the Time article about the harms of saying it by not saying it, so to speak.


  1. I grinned!
    A serious note on the third paragraph. I was reminded of yesterday's news of Baghdad "US gunmen kill 25 insurgents" see (and the choice of FOX is intentional) HERE
    What happened is they had dozens of dead bodies some women and children, and they intended to find some rebel (compare with this article by the BBC HERE) . Talk about euphemism! But you see this a lot with reports on the Middle East. People get slaughtered by the party "we" deem are on the right side, and without a trial or even a slip of evidence the ones murdered are reduced to criminals. Oh well.
    As for the exchanging the temporal with the eternal, I think most euphemisms deal with taboos like that.
    And when you start with that a lot of them deal with sleeping... hmmmmm, hardly.
    It's either rolling in the hay, passing water, knitting a brown sweater, examining the grass from the underside or confusing mine and thine.
    Anyway, I must go and powder the nose. Keep up the good work :D

  2. The glossary was a big help. I feel you've put in a lot of effort for this post.
    Keep it up! Chrz!

  3. Lol! Very cute :)

    It was all the fun of reading an essay written by a year 7 who's just discovered a thesaurus mixed with all the fun of reading something really quite... um... good (for lack of a better word, lol!) It's a great mixture that you rarely come across, I love it!

    Now if you'll excuse ME I have to go study for my exams (that, i've discovered is a uni euphemism for procrastinate and generally slack off... ;):P)