Saturday, October 14, 2023

Euphemisms and Intent

So I've been thinking about the idea of "it's the thought that counts" and euphemisms - about the meanings of words and intent.

People use euphemisms to avoid using "bad" words that they think would offend the listener or someone overhearing.  But the intent is still there.  And if you consider a word like "dang," the only meaning of which is "damn," what does the substitution really accomplish?  Why does a euphemistic word carry less baggage if the intent is the same?

More ambiguous phrases, like "Bless your heart," which can carry genuine sympathy as well as standing in for malice, make more sense to me as a euphemism.  They are disguising not just words, but also potentially intent.

So if one were in the habit of using euphemisms to somehow soften one's language or avoid using curse words, perhaps one should examine the thoughts and feelings behind what is being communicated and see if the intent is the real harm, rather than the words being used.

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