Engraving The Confusion of Tongues by Gustave Doré (1865)
The word euphemism comes from the Greek word ευφημία (euphemia), meaning “the use of words of good omen” which in turn is derived from the Greek root-words eu (ευ), “good/well” + pheme (φήμι) “speech/speaking”. The eupheme was originally a word or phrase used in place of a religious word or phrase that should not be spoken aloud; etymologically, the eupheme is the opposite of the blaspheme (evil-speaking). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euphemism
I sauntered down to the book store on Main Street and picked up Carlin’s When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops?*
This quick read mostly consists of short little after-thoughts besides recaps of his old gigs.
He takes some time to discuss euphemisms; hence the Wiki reference.
For instance, George points out that we supposedly refer to white and dark meat on Turkey Day because the Victorian English Aristocrats felt it unseemly to refer to succulent plump legs and juicy breasts. Hahaha
A mole or blemish becomes a beauty mark.
As an aside, he notes the term nonprofit. Then he insists that the proper term should be not-for-profit because the latter phrase indicates more clearly that the enterprise in question never had any intention of making money in the first place.
One might reserve a hotel room that comes with a complimentary brunch. Carlin feels that free donuts sounds more honest.
Many of these euphemisms are going by the wayside.
Letterman actually said ‘penis‘ last night. He started off with ‘your deal‘ and used that euphemism for his top-ten slam on Weiner.
Can you imagine Jackie Gleason referring to his penis while screaming his weekly rants at Alice? Johnny Carson certainly would not say penis in 1965! But he would force Ames to keep that hatchet in the upper leg area of that wooden cut-out.
Frankly the term ‘junk‘ is a hell of a lot funnier to me for some reason! Ha
I do not know exactly how the subject would come up in the context of a dinner party, but I certainly would be more prone to speak some phrase like horse-leavings rather than horseshit.
On the other hand, every good writer I visit on the web uses euphemisms and blasphemies to avoid repetition and to juice up the narrative! We are dealing with metaphors and similes most of the time while we euphemise and blasphemise after all.
The method represents how we think, how we categorize, how we remember things, and how we sell our goods.
We find this language pattern in politics of course.
George takes a couple pages to discuss UFO buffs. He wonders why people will use the term ‘buff’ to refer to these star gazing enthusiasts but never use the term in conjunction with Christian enthusiasts.
As he puts it, UFO buffs:
…are made to seem like kooks and quaint dingbats who have the nerve to believe that, in an observable universe of trillions upon trillions of stars, and most likely many hundreds of billions of potentially inhabitable planets, some of those planets may have produced life-forms capable of of doing things that we can’t do.
On the other hand those who believe in an eternal, all powerful being, a being who demands to be loved and adored unconditionally and who punishes and rewards according to his whims are thought to be worthy, upright, credible people. (p.12)
George has a point. I mean my anthropological readings four decades ago would refer to shamans. I often thought: then Monseigneur Reredon at the Basilica of St. Mary’s must have been a shaman too.
Is buff a blaspheme?
I don’t know. Sometimes when you take a closer look at a concept it loses form!
I do know that in the Military BUFF is an acronym for big ugly fat fuck! haahahah
I mean repubs might call the dems Godless, secular, pro-abortion, Muslim sympathizing, liberal fools.
Whilst I might refer to repubs as scum sucking NAZI racist pigs.
But there ya go.
I mean euphemes and blasphemes are merely omens for good and evil.
*2004, by George Carlin, Hyperion NYNY