Taboo Deformation

This author’s idiom annoys me, but the subject is an curious aspect of linguistics and philology. 


E Hines said...

With particular reference to euphemisms for cuss words or racial slurs, I've always been amused at the pseudo-logic that the euphemism--which meaning is identical to that of the cuss word or slur--is somehow less offensive than the word being substituted for.

It's also mildly insulting as it assumes those who don't get the substitution are merely stupid, and their lack of offense is a result of their stupidity.

Eric Hines

J Melcher said...

"Cheese and rice" ?

Actually, I never heard that in the wild.

"Got dandruff and some of it itches," was used in the family for humorous effect.

The old TV version of SUPERMAN had the crusty old editor Perry White cursing at his staff. "Caesar's Ghost!" Multiple times per half-hour, it seemed. I never twigged to how similar the phrase was to a hallowed expression until MUCH later in my life.

Grim said...

EH: The French have sometimes expressed a similar disdain for euphemism, especially in matters of the toilet. It seems prissy to them, which is ironic given that Americans see the French as pretty far down the prissy scale (past the British, even).

But this isn’t quite like that. It is a kind of respect, rather than a kind of attempt to avoid embarrassment or offense. “Honey Eater” is invoked partly from awe, and partly because he is thought worthy of poetry.

Beowulf is a similar kenning, allegedly: ‘bee-wolf,’ raider of the bees’ hives like a wolf raids flocks and herds.

Grim said...

JM: The movie Anchorman made fun of this approach too. “Great Odin’s Ravens!”

Assistant Village Idiot said...

@ E Hines - we do not attribute much power to the word qua word now, but most cultures do. That the meaning is the same does not imply that the incantation is equivalent.