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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Euphemistically Speaking

Euphemism
Whether you wish to assess your ability to replace an indelicate term with one that is inoffensive, or to brush up on the telling of the occasional polite lie, you may wish to avail yourself of the opportunity this humble quiz presents.

1. The tender hearted may use euphemisms in an attempt to courteously communicate that which is disagreeable. Your considerate and mild mannered companion is attempting to inform you that a dear friend of yours, having reached that inevitable hour, has shuffled off this mortal coil, crossing the river to reach his eternal reward. Since you seem perplexed, your companion is a bit more direct and informs you that your friend has "bought a pine condo".

What rude word describes the state of your dearly departed friend?

Hint: Four letters, beginning and ending in "d".

2. At times the use of an appropriate euphemism is mostly a matter of convention. Because euphemisms may evolve differently in different locations, at times one may have difficulty communicating an urgent physical need despite a shared language. Utilizing which of the following terms to request access to a toilet in an American restaurant is most likely to result in uncomfortable delays?

Bathroom
Lavatory
Washroom
WC

3. Linguists call the coining of a less offensive term for an offensive one "taboo deformation". However, not all alternate terms emphasize what is less distasteful. Which of the following would probably NOT be considered a more polite and genteel term for being drunk and hence not a euphemism for it?

Inebriated
Polluted
Tipsy
In one's cups

4. With time and usage, a term that was adopted as a less disagreeable substitute may begin to take on the same connotations as the originally more distasteful term. This leads to the coining of a new term. The process may repeat itself resulting in the development of a series of expressions for the one that originally offended. Which of the following terms came last?

Crippled
Handicapped
Disabled
Challenged

5. A euphemism may be intended to protect the speaker as well as (or even instead of) the hearer. This seems particularly true in matters of public relations. Which of the following is NOT a correct pairing of a euphemism with the item euphemized?

Jailhouse incident - prison riot
Friendly fire incident - mismanaged controlled burn
Collateral damage - civilian casualties
Sanitation workers labor action - garbage strike

6. Some have pointed out that in certain circumstances the word "euphemism" is itself a euphemism for another word that describes a common practice. What is the word for this practice?

hint: Three letters, starting with "L"

7. "Dysphemism" is an antonym for "euphemism". "Dysphemism" denotes the replacement of a more refined word with one that is coarser. Which of the following occupational dysphemisms is paired with the wrong occupation?

Quack - doctor
Pettifogger - politician
Bean counter - accountant
Grease monkey - mechanic

8. Some euphemisms depend on humor to remove the sting from the offensive term. Which of the following could NOT qualify as a lighthearted allusion to defective mental processing?

The wheel is spinning, but the hamster's dead
In reduced circumstances
Not firing on all cylinders
Knitting with only one needle

9. Some euphemisms may achieve humor without humor being the intent of the person coining the euphemism. In 1979, during the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor crisis, a reporter asked a power company spokesman what might happen if the hydrogen bubble inside the reactor came in contact with a spark. What did the company spokesman indicate the result might be?

A modest explosion
A spontaneous energetic disassembly (of the reactor)
An easily contained outburst
A theoretical scenario

10. Finally, I will give you an opportunity to make an educated guess regarding the phrase columnist John Leo chose as 'euphemism of the year' for the year ending in February 2004. Which of the following was it?

Mass presiders
Disposable mucus recovery systems
Wardrobe malfunction
Depopulate the bull calf operation

Click here, here or even here, for the answers

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