Publication details [#64128]

Crespo-Fernández, Eliecer. 2018. Euphemism as a discursive strategy in US local and state politics. Journal of Language and Politics 17 (6) : 789–811.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


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.