Euphemism as a discursive strategy in US local and state politics
Euphemism is a discursive strategy that politicians use to approach unsettling, embarrassing, or distasteful, i.e. taboo, topics without appearing inconsiderate to people’s concerns. Following a critical discourse-analytic approach to political language, this paper discusses the communicative functions that euphemism performs in the discourse of local and state politicians from New Jersey (USA) in a sample of language data excerpted from The Star-Ledger, the state’s largest newspaper. The analysis reveals that (metaphorical and non-metaphorical) euphemism constitutes a major strategy of self-protection and positive self-presentation for legislators which allows them – mostly by understatement, periphrasis, and metaphor – first, to refer to socially disadvantaged groups or address delicate subjects without sounding insensitive; second, to criticize their political opponents in a socially acceptable way; and third, to purposely conceal from the public unsettling or controversial topics.
- 2.The role of euphemism in political discourse
- 3.Theoretical assumptions
- 4.Data and methodology
- 5.Results and discussion
- 5.1Non-metaphorical euphemisms
- 5.2Metaphorical euphemism
- 6.Concluding remarks
Published online: 14 December 2018
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