Monday, January 24, 2011

A cluster of dark euphemisms

We all use euphemisms occasionally. Most of us, most of the time, use them out of squeamishness. For example, a writer or speaker may say that his great uncle “passed away,” or in the currently trendy version, “passed.” Readers or listeners usually recognize that the writer or speaker means “died.”

That kind of euphemism, although silly, is usually harmless.

But many writers and speakers calculatedly use euphemisms to manipulate other people. For several examples of this darker kind of euphemism, see “The Many Euphemisms for Money Creation,” by Thorsten Polleit, Honorary Professor at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.

He discusses the sustained use of manipulative euphemisms by the governors of the European Central Bank (headquarters pictured) and other “monetary-policy experts.” His analysis is interesting and instructive.

The Takeaway: It is all too easy to unconsciously use euphemisms, and even easier to unconsciously absorb the euphemisms of others – whose motives may by far from pure.

See disclaimer.

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