Publication details [#624]

Herrero Ruiz, Javier. 2007. A cognitive account of euphemisms and dysphemisms: the cases of death and sex. Madrid: UNED, D.L. 2007. 7 pp.
Publication type
Book – conference proceedings
Publication language
ISBN 978-84-611-6897-2


This paper analyzes the cognitive mechanisms underlying euphemisms and dysphemisms by focusing on linguistic expressions related to death and sex. Thus, the abstract domain of death is represented by means of numerous metaphors, such as DEATH IS SLEEP (e.g. She lay in the eternal slumber of death), DEATH IS DEPARTURE (e.g. This photo was taken […] before she went to heaven on August 10th, 2002), or DEATH IS DELIVERANCE (e.g. REGAN […] when he was released from his body and his spirit was free to fly). Euphemisms and dysphemisms can also be accounted for by the cognitive operations of strengthening and mitigation as formulated by Ruiz de Mendoza (2005). Strengthening involves the increase in the scalar magnitude of an expression whereas mitigation is the opposite cognitive process. The dysphemism He is worm food points to higher-level magnitudes on a scale related to emotional and affective load.