Euphemism construction in English: thematic classification and statistical analysis

South Federal University
Issue 50

This study examines the corpus of euphemistic vocabulary in the English language, focusing on its classification according to thematic parameters. The research draws upon the encyclopedic dictionary of euphemisms, which provides a comprehensive source of statistical and thematic material. The sample comprises 7896 vocabulary units, representing the diverse areas of euphemistic language use in speech production. Thematic fields were consolidated by grouping thematically similar lexemes and expressions, resulting in the specification of 17 distinct thematic fields. The study employs a comprehensive classification approach, analyzing the euphemisms based on their method of formation. The primary methods identified include borrowings from other languages, expansion of semantic meaning, metonymy, metaphor, and various word-formation changes. Peripheral methods such as allusion, eponymy, personification, vulgarisms, and epithets were also examined. The research highlights the significance of euphemism as an integral component of the English language system, reflecting the historical development and formation of language while serving as a mechanism for smoothing communicative acts. It acknowledges that euphemization of speech can be employed not only for constructing polite communication but also for implementing manipulative effects on the addressee. The qualitative and quantitative analysis of the dictionary reveals that metaphorical transfer, expansion of semantic meaning, and various word-formation changes are the most productive ways of forming euphemistic vocabulary. Borrowing foreign words, allusion, personification, eponymy, epithets, and vulgarisms are found to be less productive. The implications of this research extend to linguistics, sociolinguistics, pragmatics, cross-cultural communication, language education, cultural studies, anthropology, manipulative language use, and discourse ethics.

For citation

Akopova, A.S. (2023).  Euphemism construction in English: thematic classification and statistical analysis. Issues of Applied Linguistics, 50, 28-51.

This artiсle is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.