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浅谈英语委婉语的分类、构成方式及社会功能

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[Abstract] As an indispensable and natural part of English language, English euphemisms have existed for a long time. The appearance of everything, including euphemism, has its reasons. The emergence of English euphemisms has a close relation with language taboos and religion. Since English euphemisms play an important role in social communication, they worth careful and thorough study. This paper will mainly deal with the formation, classification and social function of English euphemisms.
Various methods have been used to form English euphemisms, including phonetic devices, spelling devices, vocabulary devices, grammatical devices and rhetorical devices.
The paper also tries to classify English euphemisms according to the content. English euphemisms are almost employed in all fields of life such as in the field of daily life, in the field of education, in the field of law, in the field of politics,  and in the field of commerce and industry.
From the day they came into being, English euphemisms play the role of social lubricator. Without them, the world will be full of conflicts and the social order will be in chaos. The function of English euphemisms is diversified. Besides evasion, English euphemisms now are also used for politeness, elegance and disguise.
[Key Words] English euphemism; formation; classification; social function

【摘 要】 委婉语是人类语言中的一种普遍现象,其存在的历史相当悠久。任何事物的出现总有其原因,委婉语当然也不例外。委婉语的出现是与语言禁忌息息相关的。英语委婉语在交际中起着十分重要的作用,因此值得深入的学习和研究。本文主要从英语委婉语的构成方式、分类和社会功能来进行阐述。英语委婉语的构成方式多种多样包括语音手段、语法手段、修辞手段等。论文还试图根据英语委婉语的内容对其应用范围进行归类。英语委婉语涉及生活的方方面面,既有日常生活中的委婉语又有教育和法律委婉语以及政治委婉语与商业和工业领域委婉语。从其诞生之日起,英语委婉语就肩负着社会润滑剂这项重任。可以预见如果没有委婉语人际交往中将会增加许多摩擦和矛盾。英语委婉语具有多样化的功能。除了避讳,它还具有礼貌、求雅、掩饰等功能。
【关键字】 英语委婉语;构成方式;分类;社会功能


1.  Introduction
Euphemisms have existed for a long time. The word “euphemism” comes from the Greek word “Euphemia”. The prefix “eu-” means “good”, the stem “pheme” means “speech” or “saying”. Many people have defined euphemism. Here are some of the definitions.
(1) “(example of the) use of pleasant, mild or indirect words or phases in place of more accurate or direct ones.”[1]
(2) “a polite word or expression that you use instead of a more direct one to avoid shocking or upsetting someone.”[2]
(3) “a less direct word used instead of one that is harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.”[3]
(4) “Substitution of mild or vague or roundabout expression for harsh or direct one; Expression thus substituted.”[4]
(5) “a polite word or expression that people use to talk about something unpleasant or embarrassing, such as death and sex.”[5]
(6) “A euphemism is used as an alternative to a dispreferred expression, in order to avoid possible loss of face: Either one’s own face or, through giving offence, that of the audience, or of some third party.”[6]
Just as the above definitions state, some harsh, blunt, unpleasant or offensive things in life should not be stated directly and truthfully in certain occasions. Under these circumstances, some better-sounding names should be used. Euphemism is a part of human language as well as a psychological and cultural phenomenon of different nations. The usage of English euphemism reflects ethics and behavioral code of people in English-speaking countries. From the day it came into being, euphemism functions as the lubricator of communication. Thus it enables people to live in harmony and makes conversations smooth and successful.
The following parts hold a discussion on the origin, formation, classification and social function of English euphemisms.

2.  The origin of English euphemisms
“Euphemism is the linguistic reflection of social psychology and a product of social and cultural environment.”[7] “In western nations, the usage of euphemisms in early times originated from religion or admires and dread of gods.”[8]Its earlier emergence had a close relation to language taboos and religion.
In ancient society, as the level of productivity and science was very low, people failed to explain the essence of some natural phenomena such as lightening and thunder. They came to believe that there were some supernatural powers, or the existence of devils and gods that controlled their lives and even the whole world. They dared not to mention the names of the devils and gods directly, just as the idiom goes “Speak of the devil and he appears.” Thus, language taboos came into being. To find a solution to this problem, people used other names that is, euphemisms to substitute the names of those things they feared in circumstances that they had to speak of them. Because of the usage of euphemisms, people felt that they were somewhat distant from what they were afraid of and their safety, happiness, health and good luck were guaranteed. Though it is a rather old religious custom, it still exerts a strong influence on modern western nations.
    As we all know, the majority of the population of English-speaking countries believes in God consciously or unconsciously, and they think that God exists everywhere and has unlimited power. Words related to God and religion can only be used in religious ceremonies. Since the name of God is regarded as the avatar of God itself, people usually use “the Lord” to replace it. Besides, Jesus is euphemized as “Gee”, “jeepers”, “jiminy”, “Cricket” or “Criminet”; and “the deuce”, “the dickens” or “Old Nick” substitutes “the Devil”.

3.  The formation of English euphemisms
Various devices are employed to form English euphemisms.
3.1 Phonetic devices
Phonetic distortion is a common means to form English euphemism. For example, People use “Gad”, “Goodness”, “Gosh”, and “Golly” to replace “God” and use “cripes” to replace “Christ” in order to show respect. Assonance is another important means to form euphemisms. For example, “ ‘a coffin shop’ is euphemized as ‘a coffee shop’, for ‘coffin’ and ‘coffee’ have similarity in sound.”[9] Rhyming slang is also employed to form English euphemisms. Slang is very informal and has local color. It was originally used by working people. Now, some slang words have been accepted in Standard English and used as euphemisms. For example, “Bristol cities” is for “breasts”;  “grasp and grunt” is rhyming slang for “cunt” and “tea leaf” is for “thief”.
3.2 Spelling devices
3.2.1 Abbreviations
Some euphemisms are abbreviations. For example, “VD” is for “venereal disease”; “BO” is for “body odor”; “BM” substitutes “bowel movement”; “WC” substitutes “water closet”; “OD” replaces “to take an overdose”, etc.
3.2.2 Reinterpretation of initials
Reinterpretation of initials is also used to form English euphemisms. For example, “hot and cold” is a roundabout expression for “heroin and cocaine”. “hot” and “heroin” have the same initial “h” and “cold” and “cocaine” have the same initial “c”, but “hot and cold” sounds less accurate and indirect.
3.3 vocabulary devices
3.3.1Loan words
Borrowing is the use of loanwords in order to avoid taboos. “It is thought that loanwords have few negative meaning and sensitive associations, so that they sound more neutral and pleasant.” [10]
 Here is a list of direct expressions and their respective euphemisms.
“English             French                      Latin                              
smell              scent
stink               odor
fat                                            rotund
sick/ill             indisposed    
lie                 prevaricate
spit                                            expectorate
sweat                                           perspire” [11]
As we all know, in 43 A.D. Roman Empire conquered England and brought Latin to England and Latin became official language in England. After the Norman Conquest in 1066, French became the governmental language in England. But French and Latin were only spoken by the upper classes, and among the low classes English was spoken. The upper classes held the view that words used by themselves were superior to those used by the low classes. So they used French or Latin words to replace unpleasant English words. Later people accepted the view that French and Latin words are more euphemistic than English words.
3.3.2Using uplifting words
Uplifting words can make one feel happier or more hopeful so they are used quite frequently in modern English as an important means to euphemize things related to the humble social class. The main purpose of using these euphemisms is to make menial jobs sound decent. For example, people replace “waiters” or “waitresses” by “the dining room attendants”, “landscape worker” by “landscape architect”, “garbage man” by “sanitary engineer”, and substitute “butcher” with “meat technologist”. Generally speaking, in forming euphemism the rule of using words that are easy on the ears is observed for the purpose of consolation. Through using uplifting words, the embarrassing facts are embellished and no longer unpleasant.
33.3Using vague words or expressions
In modern western countries, vague words or expressions are used in almost all the fields. “If a neighboring girl has a child before marriage, people will comment like this: ‘She has an accident.’ The word ‘accident’ is very vague. If a person came across a disaster and died, people will also use ‘accident’ to describe his situation. They may say: ‘He has met with an accident.’” [12]In school a student may say to a teacher: “Sorry! I have to do my business” when he wants to go to the washing room. Besides, “a man of bad taste” is called  “a man of doubtful taste”; and “homosexual” is replaced by “queer”. “It is no wonder that euphemism is named weasel words.”[13]
3.3.4 Using country names
Names of some countries are used to substitute uncomfortable things. For example, “Dutch courage” replaces “weak courage”, that is, courage that comes from drinking alcohol; and “Dutch uncle” is for “unpleasant relative”. We all know that there was a war between Britain and Dutch in 17th century. From then on, hatred existed among people in these two nations. And Englishmen used every chance to make joke of Dutch. Besides Dutch, France is also used to form euphemisms like “French novels” for “porn novels” and “French letters” for “condom”. And people use “French devices/methods” or simply “Frenchise” to replace methods of birth control. People in Britain banter French because they were once ruled by it.
3.4 Grammatical devices
More and more linguists become to notice euphemisms formed through grammatical devices. Such euphemisms are used by speakers with a certain purpose.  Only through the context, can listeners figure out speakers’ special intention.
3.4.1 Using the past tense
In written English the past tense is mostly used to express an action or a fact happened in a certain point of time in the past. But in oral English, the past tense can replace the present tense to make the meaning of the sentences sounds more polite and mild.
(1) Do you want me to help you?     
(2) Did you want me to help you?
(3) I wonder if you can do me a favor.  
(4) I wondered if you could do me a favor.
Sentences (1) and (3) use the present tense and sentences (2) and (4) use the past tense, and they are all grammatically right. But sentences (2) and (4) sound more pleasant, for they mean that what the speakers say happened in the past, so the listeners will not feel embarrassed if they have different answers from the speakers’ at the time being.
(5) Wouldn’t it be better for us to start off a little earlier tomorrow?
(6) This is something I should advise you not to do.
    By using the past tense of model auxiliary verbs, the above sentences put forward a polite proposal instead of a harsh one.
3.4.2 Using the subjunctive mood
The subjunctive mood in English is mainly used to express doubt, wishes, or possibility. When used in spoken English, one can achieve a better communication effect than with indicative mood or imperative mood. Here are some examples:
(7) If I were you, I would not go there.
(8) If he be found guilty, his membership would be suspended.
(9) It is essential that he recognize his fault.
3.4.3 Using the passive voice
In English, the passive voice is used to avoid mentioning the doer, especially when expressing criticism. Here are two examples:
(10) It is generally considered not acceptable to act that way.
(11) This book was not well written.
In sentence (10), the passive voice is tactfully used not to indicate who acts that way. In sentence (11), the speaker does not mention who is the writer in order not to hurt the person concerned.
3.4.4 Using parentheses
Parentheses are also used to form euphemisms. And a parenthesis can be a word, a phrase or a sentence, such as, “I think”, “I guess”, “I’m afraid”, “I suppose”, “I wonder”, “it seems”, and “it is said”. They are used to make a statement less direct or less strong. Here are some examples:
(12) The man, it seems, is the one who lives next door to Tim.
(13) This, I think, is a very good way to improve your English study.
With “it seems” and “I think” the two sentences sound more modest and less righteous.
3.4.5 Using “please”
Out of kindness and politeness, the word “please” is used as a euphemistic device. Examples:
(14) No photos, please.
(15) Close the door, please.
(16) Children, please! I am trying to work.
In sentence (14), “please” is employed on a sign to say that something is not allowed politely. Sentence (15) uses “please” as a polite way of asking somebody to do something. Sentence (16) employs “please” as a mild criticism, to ask somebody to stop behaving badly.
3.4.6 Using tag questions
A phrase such as “isn’t it?”,  “won’t it”, or “doesn’t she” is added to the end of a sentence to make it a question  or to ask you to agree with the above statement politely. Examples:
(17) Let’s go fishing this afternoon, shall we?
(18) Turn on the light for me, will you?
3.5 Rhetorical devices
Some euphemisms are invented by rhetorical means as follows.
3.5.1 Using metaphor
In English, many euphemisms themselves are vivid and popular metaphors, so it is necessary to find out what “metaphor” means. A metaphor employs a word or a phrase to indicate something different from the literal meaning. People seldom say “he died” but “he went to sleep forever” or “he went to his long home”. Here, “go to sleep forever” and “go to one’s long home” are both metaphors and euphemisms. More examples are:
(19) He is Hamlet.
(20) His plan is castle in the air.
(21) John is carrying coals to Newcastle.
Sentence (19) means “he is indecisive”, sentence (20) means “his plan is daydream”, and sentence (21) has the same meaning with “John is wasting time and energy”. Euphemisms created by this way also appear in literary works. Here is an example:
(22)“therefore it is better to be a guest of the law, which though conducted by rules, does not interfere too with a gentleman’s private affairs.”[14]
In sentence (22), “to be a guest of the law” means to “be in prison”, but the former is a pleasant substitution. Soapy would rather spend his winters in prison than get some help from charity organizations, for if he wants to get help from charities, his private affairs will be interfered.
3.5.2 Using understatement
For the sake of politeness and pleasantness, people often use another formation called understatement, which, is not to state something fully or adequately. Understatement, as the word suggests, is “a statement that is not strong enough to express how good, bad, impressive etc something really is.”[15] “Understatement achieves its effect of emphasizing a fact by deliberately understating it.” [16]
“Understatement is usually divided into litotes and meiosis. Litotes is understatement by using a negative statement instead of a positive one”[17]. Examples:
(23) She is very ugly. --- She is not particularly good-looking.
(24) He was quite rich. ---He was a man of no mean wealth.
In sentence (23), “not particularly good-looking” is more neutral and vague than “ugly”, so the employment of this euphemism successfully avoids annoying the person concerned. Sentence (24) has something to do with personal affairs. Westerners don’t like others to talk about their private affairs. Wealth belongs to one’s privacy, so it is more polite to use a roundabout way to talk about it when you have to.
“Meiosis is merely understatement without the use of negatives”[18]. Examples:
(25) Her daughter is in prison. ---Her daughter lives under the government’s expense.
(26) I can’t promise. ---Sorry, this is in fact more than I can promise.
“prison” in sentence (25) is an unpleasant word. General speaking, people are sensitive to the word “prison” if one is in prison, you had better avoid mentioning “prison” in front of his relatives. Sentence (26) is a refusal. When you refuse someone, indirect words will get a better result, for they will not make him lose face.
By using understatements, the speakers do not seem to be so cruel to others whom they speak something upsetting to.
3.5.3 Using metonymy
Metonymy is another very useful rhetorical means to form English euphemisms. It uses the name of one thing to substitute that of another. By using it, some unpleasant expressions can be avoided. Metonymy can be further divided into the following.
(ⅰ) Substituting the typical characteristics of a person for the person
For example,
(27)  Gray hairs should be respected.
In the above sentence, “Gray hairs” is employed to replace “old people”, for gray hair is one of the typical characteristics of old people. Since “old” is a taboo in English-speaking countries people express it with euphemistic words.
(ⅱ) Substituting the whole for the part
For example,
(28) She has a good chest .
In sentence (28), “chest” means “breast”. People consider “breast” as an ungraceful word, so they use roundabout way to mention it.
(ⅲ) Substituting the tools for the action or the thing
For example,
(29) During the World War Ⅱ Hitler attended to carry fire and sword into           Every part of the world.
In sentence (29), “fire and sword” has the same meaning with “war”. In westerners’ eyes, fire is the symbol of hope and sword is the symbol of justice. As war makes people think of misery, they usually don’t mention it directly. Here, “fire and sword” is used to create a sense of satire.
(30) Selling cards is forbidden.                
“cards” in sentence (30) means “drugs”. “drug” is a sensitive word as it has something to do with crime and decadence, so it is often euphemized. People use “card” to refer to “drug” for the reason that drug dealers put disposable drugs into folding postcards and send them to drug addicts.
(ⅳ) Substituting the name of a place for the person
For example,
(31) Tom is successful in his career but he was a brostal.
“Brostal” in the above sentence means “young criminal”. “Brostal” is the name of a locality in Britain. Because the famous young criminals center is located there, people use the name of it to replace “young criminal”.

4.  Calcification of English euphemisms
English euphemisms involves in almost every field of life. This paper tries to classify them according to the content.
4.1In the field of daily life
4.1.1 About old age
It is natural for people to experience adult, middle age, old age and death. But to westerners, old age means worthless and the old will be looked down upon or even deserted. So no one admits that he is old. People dread about old age so much that they see the word “old” as a taboo. Thus, they try their best to borrow other words to express it, e.g.: “the advanced in age”, “the mature”, “the longer living”, “seasoned man”, “senior citizens”, etc. In short, western nations have “senior citizens” or “the longer lived” but no “old age”.
4.1.2 About unemployment and poverty
Unemployment is still a big social problem in western countries. It is so dreaded that it almost makes people become shivering when they think of it, particularly during periods of economic crisis. And once you are out of work, poverty is the inevitable result. Who likes to live a poor life? Thus, unemployment has become a hot topic in political competition. Nearly every candidate looks on the low unemployment rate as one of his or her trumps to win. More and more people get used to be considerate when they want to mention unemployment and poverty. As a result, many vague expressions or words are created to replace them. For example, when the boss wanted to dismiss John, he was “laid off”, “eased out” or “given the walking ticket” and he became a “lay-off worker”. At first he was “out of pocket” and “lived in reduced circumstances (penniless)”, then he “lived in difficulties (in debt)”, later he had no choice but to “move into a sub-standard housing (slums)”. Besides, “The poor” is “the have-nots”, “the underprivileged” or “the disadvantaged”. And there are no poor countries in the world for they are replaced by “developing nations” or “emerging nations”. When these euphemisms are heard from the people, they are used to soften harsh reality, but when governments use them, they are changed into deceiving words.
4.1.3 About menial jobs and professions
There are many people who undertake humble jobs that are looked down upon by the public. For the sake of politeness, people use upgrading euphemisms to “uplift” these jobs by name, not by status. Examples:
(32) Mary always turns to her uncle when there is something wrong with her shoes for he is a shoe rebuilder.
(33) Supervisors are strict and mean to workers. 
(34) The main work of tree surgeons is to make good of trees.
(35) We need a pipe engineer because the pipe in our kitchen is dripping.
In the above sentences, “cobbler”, “foremen”, “tree trimmers” and “plumber” are replaced respectively by “shoe rebuilder”, “supervisors”, “tree surgeons” and “pipe engineer”. And “hair dresser” is substituted by “beautician or hairstylist”; “floor-sweeper” is replaced by “custodian engineer”; “hire girl” is spoken as “domestic engineer”; “rat-catcher” is substituted by “pest control operator”; “washwoman” is replaced by “clothes refresher”, and so on. All these words are used for the same purpose: to avoid offending people with humble jobs. The usage of occupational euphemisms reflects a sense of inferiority as well as a striving for “better things”.
4.1.4 About menstruation
The desire to escape from unpleasant feelings brings out many euphemisms on excretion of women. Menstruation euphemism is one of them. Such as “to have a visitor”; “my friend has come”; and so on. All of these euphemisms are used to avoid the feeling of embarrassment and distaste.
4.2 In the field of education
Teachers have to make comments on students. When they want to point out shortcomings or bad behavior of students, they often use roundabout ways in order not to hurt students and their parents. The following are some mostly used euphemisms in this field and their real meanings.
“(36) The student is obtuse. ---The student is a bit slow for his age. The students seems to be mentally retarded.
(37) He has failed (flunked) a major course. ---I’m sorry to find him an underachiever for a major subject.
(38) The student is lazy. --- The student needs to raise his ambition a bit. I’m afraid the student has to exert himself in his study. He is sure to go far if he can use his resources fully. He’ll go somewhere if he is highly motivated.
(39) The student is noisy. ---He needs to develop quieter habits of communication.
(40) The student is a bully. --- He needs help in learning to use is leadership qualities democratically
(41) He lies. ---He has difficulty in distinguishing between imaginary and factual information.
(42) The student cheats. ---He needs help in learning to respect the property right of others.
(43) The student must mend his way. –He needs to be brought back into the mainstream.”[19]
4.3 In the field of law
Since crimes are tabooed in many social situations, people create a large number of euphemisms to replace them. Here is a list of crimes and their corresponding euphemisms.
Crimes                         Euphemisms
crooked, fraudulent               free-wheeling
thief                           five fingers, a dip, a fork
violence                        action
murder                         take care of
prostitute                       brass, daughter of eve
heroin                          Big Harry
opium                          black stuff
4.4 In the field of politics
Politics is one of the fertile fields for the growth of euphemisms. With euphemisms, politicians always justify their actions and beautify the harsh realities for some certain purposes. Only when the public believes that the society under their lead has become better, can their political life survives. The list of such kind of euphemisms is endless, e.g.: “economic crisis” is replaced by “depression” or “recession”; “strike” is said to be “industrial action”; “aggression” is spoken as “preemptive action”, “police action” or “anti-terrorist action”; “civilian casualties” is substituted by “collateral damage”; “killing of citizens” is euphemized as “wasting the enemy”; “concentration camps” is replaced by “strategic villages or hamlets”; “retreat” is said to be “strategic withdrawal”; “ground war” is spoken as “ground operation”; etc. “This kind of euphemisms is used to cover up the true nature of some political events, misleading the public with pleasant and sweet words.”[20]
4.5 In the field of commerce and industry
Euphemisms can also be seen in the area of commerce and industry. Example:
(44) John was out of game and he jumped from the 20th floor of a building out of desperation.
(45) She is a negative saver for she always buys something expensive but unnecessary so she has to borrow money from others at the end of each month.
In the above sentences, “bankrupt” and “over spender” are substituted by “out of game” and “negative saver”.
   Some companies are not large enough to be called large companies, but they don’t want to use “fairly large” to describe themselves for the sense of dignity. So “substantial” is employed to replace “fairly large”, in the euphemistic expression “a substantial and well-diversified group companies”. In this field, “small” is regarded as a taboo word too, so people use many nice-sounding words to substitute it. In Europe “a compact” is equal to “a small car”. And “a subcompact” means “a type of very small and inexpensive car”. As it is inexpensive, it is attractive to people. Sometimes “small” is replaced by “intimate” or “limited”. As everybody knows, “an intimate gathering” is usually “a small gathering”. “cheap” is another taboo word. People don’t like to use the word “cheap”. Instead, they use its euphemisms, such as “low-cost”, “realistically priced”, or “economy priced”. In order to attract customers, shopkeepers use “premium-priced” to describe “expensive”. So, “premium-priced Scotches” in fact is “the most expensive Scotches”.

5. The social function of English euphemisms
5.1 For evasion
Since death is inevitable, it has become the fear of all human being. In early time, people seldom mentioned death directly because they were superstitious about it. They believed that death was a devil that can hear human’s voice. So if you speak of it, it will appear. Thus, there were many euphemisms about the word “die” such as “breathe one’s last” and “join the majority”.
Disease is another fear of man. In primitive society, as the level of medicine was very low, people scarcely survived when they got sick. To them, disease was as dreadful as death. So they didn’t speak it directly either. In modern society, although many diseases can be cured, people are still afraid of them. On the one hand, the patient suffers a lot from it; on the other hand, the expense is a heavy burden to the family especially the poor. The common result is that the patient regains his health but the whole family has to live a poor life for many years or even all their lives. Thus, people usually use euphemistic words when they mention the names of disease. For example, the “Big C” replaces “cancer” and “AIDS” substitutes “acquired immune deficiency syndrome”.
In Chinese people’ eyes, westerners are quite open-minded. But this does not mean that they talk about all the words related to sex freely. “Except for some medical terms in a special situation, they may use euphemistic words to talk about it”[21]. Such as, “to have sex” and “to make love”. Words about the birth are also seldom mentioned directly because they make people think of sex. When a woman is pregnant, she is described as “to have one watermelon on the vine”; “in a particular condition”; “to have one on the way”, etc.
5.2 For politeness
The Pursuit of beauty is the nature of human being. Beauty helps one feel confident while ugliness makes one have a sense of inferiority. So it is impolite even offensive to say someone is ugly directly. When people want to express someone is ugly, they usually say “He is plain looking” or “She is not pretty”, etc. With the improvement of living standard, more and more people have a weight problem. Various products of losing weight flood into the market for being too fat is not only a problem of appearance but also a problem of health. Obesity brings inconvenience as well as the risk of many diseases. Therefore, there are a lot of euphemisms about fatness like “plump”,  “chubby” or “tubby”, etc. “Skinny” is another unpleasant word. No one likes to be described as “skinny”, but they will be really pleased when they hear others describe them as “slim” or “slender”.
The disabled need help and protection but they are sensitive, too. So people have to choose their words carefully when they talk about them. Many euphemistic words are designed to avoid mentioning the handicapped. “deaf” is replaced by “hard of hearing”; “cripple” is euphemized as “the inconvenienced”, and so on..
5.3For elegance
 Excrement is a disgusting topic in polite conversation. They are avoided by means of euphemisms. “Defecation” refers to one of the sickest elements in the world. When you go to see a doctor for a stomach upset, the doctor will ask you, “How is your bowel movement?” And if he wants to have a further examination, he will need a specimen of your manure. If someone rounds his thumb and index finger up to form the letter “C” with other fingers stretching out, he wants to go to W.C. There are other expressions having the same meaning, like  “to sing a song”, “to see the moon”, “answer the nature’s call”, “do one’s business” or simply “ Excuse me”.
Some parts of body are associated with sex, so they are avoided being said directly. This generates a large number of euphemisms. “big brow eyes”, “bust” or “coconuts” refers to female’s breasts; “naturals”, “affair” or “tails” suggest sex organs of human being, etc. Like parts of body, nakedness is a taboo out of embarrassment or shame. According to the Bible, Adam and Eve ate the wise fruit, found themselves naked and felt very ashamed. They hid themselves behind the bush when the Lord came to see them. Then they used fig leaves to cover important parts of their bodies. This story demonstrates that “nakedness” has been a taboo for a long time. There are many euphemistic words about nakedness, like “altogether” and “in one’s birthday suit”. Once a man was bathing without locking his door, one of his friends rushed into his room for emergency and found he was naked. They both felt embarrassed. Then the man with nothing on said, “You are the one besides my mother who has seen I am in my birthday suit”. Both of them immediately burst into laughter.
5.4For disguise
Everything has merits and demerits, and euphemism is not the exception. “One of the characteristics of euphemisms is its vagueness.”[22] So they are employed to conceal harsh and unpleasant things in communications, creating a harmony environment. But it is this special feature that creates chances for politicians and businessmen to make use of euphemisms to achieve their selfish goals.
Politicians are famous for their ability to play words. They can even turn facts upside down. They try their effort to persuade people that they live a better life under their leadership thereby to get support and hold their positions. One of the effective methods they use is the usage of euphemisms. Therefore, many euphemisms about politics can be seen. For example, “logistical strikes” is for “bombing attacks”; “defoliation” is for “destroying crops”, and so on.
If you want to survive the sharp commercial competition, you have to keep alert and attract customers, the sources of benefits, by means of advertisements. Euphemism is a common but successful way used in commercial advertisements, for it seems that everybody prefers compliments and praise to harsh and upsetting truth. Airline companies are experts in using euphemisms. They call the first-class “deluxe class”, the second-class becomes “first-class” and the third-class is “economic class”, “business class” or “tourist class”. In this case, passengers in the third-class will not feel inferior and don’t lose their faces when they tell others they take the “economic class”, and passengers in other classes are uplifted at the same time.
Euphemism that functions as disguise is a kind of deceit for they cover up the fact of matters.

6. Conclusion
The emergence of euphemisms is closely related to language taboos and religion.  Euphemisms are formed through various devices like phonetic devices, spelling devices, vocabulary devices, grammatical devices and rhetorical devices. Euphemisms are now used in almost all fields of life such as in daily life, in the field of education, etc. They perform the function of evasion when they are used to replace taboos. Besides evasion, they are employed for politeness, elegance and disguise. Since euphemisms play an important role in language, it is a good way for English learners to improve their English study by learning and employing English euphemisms.

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