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语言文化论文-刍议英语委婉语的起源及其社会交际功能.doc

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语言文化论文-刍议英语委婉语的起源及其社会交际功能.doc

语言文化论文刍议英语委婉语的起源及其社会交际功能AbstractEuphemism,asacommonlinguisticphenomenoninworldculture,iswidelyusedineverysocialclassandfield.Englisheuphemism,asoneofmanyeuphemismsexistingintheworld,hasitsowndeeporigin,whichincludeboththereligiousoriginandthehistorical,literaryorigin.ThisthesiswilltrytodiscusstheoriginofEnglisheuphemismfromeveryaspectofreligion,race,politics,literary,andhistory.Languagereflectslife,andisalwayscloselyrelatedtothesociety.Duringthecommunication,duetosomecertainrestrictionofbehaviorandmorality,peopletendtouseeuphemismusedasakindoflubrication,makingtheharsh,indelicatewordssoundtactfulandpleasant.Englisheuphemismplaysaveryimportantroleinpeoplessocialcommunication.ThispaperwillalsoexpoundthesocialcommunicativefunctionofEnglisheuphemismfromthethreeaspectsevasivefunction,politefunction,andcosmeticfunction.HavingagoodunderstandingoftheoriginandsocialfunctionofEnglisheuphemismandtheEnglishlanguageculturecanavoidmanyconflictsintheprocessofsocialcommunication.KeyWordsorigincommunicativefunctionevasioncosmeticfunctionpoliteness【摘要】委婉语是世界文化中普遍存在的语言现象,它广泛应用于社会各阶层和领域。英语委婉语作为众多委婉语中的一种,具有其产生的深厚渊源,其中包宗教与政治的,也包括文学与历史的。本文试图从宗教、种族、政治、文学、历史等方面入手来探讨英语委婉语的产生渊源。语言反映生活,并且总是和社会紧密联系在一起,在语言交谈中,由于一定的行为规范和道德准则的制约,人们通常使用委婉语这一润滑剂,使刺耳,不文雅的话变得委婉愉悦。它在人们的社会交际过程中发挥着重要作用。本文从其避讳功能、礼貌功能以及掩饰功能三方面阐释了英语委婉语的社会交际功能。通过充分理解英语委婉语的起源及其社会交际功能,进一步理解英语语言文化,以避免社会交际中的各种冲突。【关键词】起源交际功能避讳礼貌掩饰1.IntroductionEuphemismisaculturalphenomenonaswellasalinguisticconcept.Everylanguagehasitsowneuphemism,sodoesEnglish.Itisdeeplyrootedinsociallifeandhasagreatinfluenceonsocialcommunication.AsanindispensableandnaturalpartofEnglishlanguage,Englisheuphemismhasattractedpeoplesattentionforalongtime.SinceEuphemismwascoined,ithasplayedaveryimportantroleinpeoplescommunication.Thecommunicationwithouteuphemismisunimaginable.Euphemismisusedlikelubrication,whichmakesthecommunicationgoonsmoothly.ThisthesiswillhaveanoverviewoftheoriginofEnglisheuphemism,andstateitssocialcommunicativefunction.Englisheuphemismasalinguisticconcept,ithascloserelationshipswiththewesternculture,andittrulyreflectsthelifeandvaluesofEnglishpeopleandtheirhistory.Euphemismisaparticularlygoodmediumforaccesstotheforceoflanguagethathasprovidedaneffectiveapproachtounderstandingthehumanmind.ThestudyofEnglisheuphemismcanhelpusunderstandthewesterncultureandpromotetheinternationaldevelopmentbecauseeuphemismiswidelyusedininternationalnegotiations.SothereisagreatneedforustostudyEnglisheuphemism,includingitsorigin,itssocialfunction,etc.2.ThedefinitionsofEnglisheuphemismEuphemismisauniversallinguisticphenomenon.Nearlyineverylanguage,therearesomedisgustingwords,whichmakepeoplefeelembarrassed.Intheprocessofcommunication,theunsuitableortoodirectwordswillmakepeoplefeeluncomfortable,evenangry.Thenthereisagreatneedforustouseatactfulwaytoexpressemotion,exchangeideas.Thatistosay,touseapleasant,mildorindirectwordsorphrasestaketheplaceoftabooedwords.Itisknownthateuphemismisaformoflanguageintentionallycreatedinsocialrelationtoachieveidealcommunication.Withoutthemanylanguagewouldseemtobevulgarandrude,voidofpolitenessandvividnesstosomeextent.Asacommoncommunicationintheprocessofpeopleusinglanguage,euphemismisanimportantwayforpeopletocoordinatethesocialrelationships.Likeakindoflubrication,euphemismenablespeopletoexpresswhatcannotbeuttereddirectlyandensurescommunicationtobecarriedsmoothly.Itisalanguagestrategyincivilizedsocietyforavoidingtaboo.Itisunimaginableifthecommunicationiswithouteuphemism.ThewordeuphemismwasderivedfromtheGreekwordeuphemismos,whichmeansfairspeech.Theprefixeumeansgood,soundwellandphememeanssayingorspeech.Andthustheliteralmeaningofeuphemismistospeakwithgoodwordsorinapleasantmanner.Thatistosay,euphemismisusedasanalternativetounpleasantexpression,inordertoavoidpossibleloseofface,eitheronesownfaceorthroughgoingoffense,thatoftheaudience,orsomeofthirdofparty.Thisunpleasantexpressionmaybetabooed,fearsome,orforsomeotherreasonsthatspeakerscantorintendnottousesomecertainexpressiondirectlyonsomeoccasion.InWebstersEncyclopedicUnabridgedDictionaryoftheEnglishLanguageisthesubstitutionofamild,indirect,orvagueexpressionforonethoughtsubstituted.RawsonBlunt,aBritishwriter,definedeuphemismasagoodfavorableinterpretationofabadword.1EncyclopediaBritannica1994alsodefineseuphemismasafigureofspeechinwhichsomethingofanunpleasant,distressingorindelicatenatureisdescribedinlessoffensiveterms2Fromtheabovementioned,wecouldclearlyseethateuphemismischaracterizedbyavoidancelanguageandevasiveexpression.Thespeakersusewordsorexpressionsasaprotectiveshieldagainsttheangerordisapprovalofnaturalorsupernaturalthings.Itisoneformoflanguageandalinguisticphenomenon3.TheoriginsofEnglisheuphemism3.1ThereligiousoriginofEnglisheuphemismTheearliestEnglisheuphemismscomefromtaboo.ThewordtaboocomesfromTogan,akindofPolynesian.Itindicatesevasivelanguageoraction.3TheemergenceofEnglisheuphemismistomeettheneedofavoidingtaboos.Inprimitivesociety,peoplecantexplainsuchthingsasailmentandsomesupernaturalphenomena.Peoplehaveconfusionbetweenthenameofthethingsandthingsthemselves.Thenameisviewedasanextensionofthings.JustastheidiomsaysSpeakofdevilandheappears.Naturallythewordsorphrasesrelatedtosuchthingsbecometaboos.4Intheancienttimes,peoplehadblindfaithinghostsandGodstheyrespected.Theywhisperedandevenfearedthemsotheydidnotdaretoaddresstheirnamesdirectly.TheythinkitprofanetonameGod.Thereforethenamesofgodsbecometheearliesttaboos.Tospeaknameofgodswastoevokethedivinitywhosepowerthenhadtobeconfronted.Suchdangerouspracticeswerereservedforpriestsskilledinnegotiatingwiththesupernatural.Sotheusualwaytoavoidistoemployeuphemisms.Therefore,forthereligiousneed,alotofeuphemismsaboutreligionemerged.Forexample,inordernottodesecrateGod,peopleinEnglishspeakingcountryalwaysusesomeothernameforGodinsteadofcallingdirectly,suchasAdonai,theAlmighty,CaesarsCruth,theCreater,Dod,Gad,Land,Lawks,Lawd.5Theoppositesideofgodisdevil,whichismoreterribleforpeople.Whenpeoplerefertothem,theytendtousesucheuphemismstoreplaceD,theBigD,theEvilone,theBlackone,theGoodman,Jesse,Oldboy,Ourfather,Lordoflords,Kingofkings,theLightoftheworld,etc.6Fromtheabovementioned,wecanfindthatreligionbringsmanyeuphemistictermsinthereligiousmatter,especiallythenamingandaddressingofGodtothelanguage.3.2TheracialandnationaloriginsofEnglisheuphemismItisknowntoall,thephenomenonofracialdiscriminationisdeeplyrootedinAmericainwhichequalopportunityisflatteredbyAmericanwhitepeopleasanequalrightenjoyedbyeveryone.Duetothepressureofsocialpublicopinion,althoughsomewhitesdiscriminatetheblackfromtheirheart,theywillnotexposethiskindofprejudiceinpublic.Meanwhile,fewpeopledaretohumiliateandpersecuteblackspubliclyfornoreasonatall.Inotherwords,thewayofdiscriminationbecomestactful.Therearemanyeuphemismsemergingforthisreason.Inthe1930s,niggerisstillaneutralnouninEngland,andhasnomeaningofhumiliatingblacks.Butsincethiswordhastheobviousmeaningofdiscriminatingtheblacks,mostofpeopleinEnglandandAmericansusesomeothereuphemisticwords,suchascoloredblackinstead.Whentalkingaboutsomeotherraces,itdoesnotoftenusethedirectwordsthatarerelatedtocolor.Peopleoftenusesomeeuphemisticexpression,suchasthegeographicname.3.3Historical,literaryandpoliticaloriginsofEnglisheuphemismFromthetimetheNormansconqueredEnglandin1066,Englishhasemergedmanyeuphemisms.Atthattime,themainreasontouseeuphemismisthatthelanguageusedbytheconqueredisoftendisparaged,andisthoughtasgrosslanguage.Theupperclasssurelydoesntwanttolowertheirstatustousesuchwords.Inordertoavoidusingsuchgrosswords,theytendtousetheelegantwords,whichoriginatedfromLatin.AndthesewordsweremixedintoEnglishgradually.Therearealsomanyeuphemismsinliteraryworks.Forexample,inHamlet,ShakespeareusetheexpressionTheundiscoveredcountryfromwhosebournnotravelerreturns从来不曾有一个旅人回来过的神秘之国toexpresshisgreatsympathyforHamlet.7ThefamousAmericanwriterMarkTwainusereleasetoexpressdieinhisworkTheAdventureofTomSawyer.Besides,politicsisafertileareafortheappearanceandgrowthofEnglisheuphemism,whichiscosmeticinexpressionbutdeceptiveinnature.Euphemismsofthiskindarealwaysconsciouslyanddeliberately.ThecosmeticeuphemismcanbeeasilyfoundinAmericanEnglish.GovernmentsdiscussionoftheVietnamWarwassaturatedwitheuphemisms.VillagesburnedandinhabitantsimprisonedwerePacificationsthewaritselfwasnotawarbutaconflict,thebombingbecomeslogisticalstrikeorcloseairsupport,andkillingbecomeswastingtheenemy.Theseeuphemismsareusedtodeceiveandtohidethedirtybusinessofwar.8Theuseofsuchpoliticaleuphemismshelpsgovernmenttobeautifytheactionandpreventpeoplefromtakinganyantigovernmentaction.Soinordertosatisfythepoliticalneeds,manyeuphemismscometoexist.4.ThesocialcommunicativefunctionofEnglisheuphemismFromtheperspectiveoflanguagecommunication,euphemismfunctionstoavoidtaboos,toshowpolitenessandconcealfeelings.Thankstoeuphemism,itiseasyforpeopletoacceptthethingsthatarelikelytomakeothersfeelembarrassedorunhappy.Itispeoplesgeneralcharactertoexpresstheirideasasmildlyandtactfullyaspossible.Euphemismhelpspeopletoreachthisgoal.Fromthemomenteuphemismcameintoexistence,ithasplayedaveryimportantroleinourdailycommunication,andhelpestablishagoodrelationshipbetweenhumanbeingsandevenstrengthenthesocialstability.Euphemismaremotivatedbythedesirenottobeoffensive.Peopleusethemtoshowtheirpoliteness,toavoidbeingoffensiveandtomeetthepsychologicalandbeneficialneedsofbothspeakersandhearersincommunication.Butsometimestheyareusedtoconcealorcoversomething.Accordingly,euphemismservesthreebasiccommunicativefunctionsevasivefunction,politefunctionandcosmeticfunction.4.1TheevasivefunctionofEnglisheuphemismTheevasivefunctionofeuphemismistoevadeusingtaboos,enablingthespeakertotalkabouttabooedthingsfreely.Thesetabooedthingsarebelievedtobedangeroustocertainindividuals,ortothesocietyasawhole,ortobedisgustingandunpleasant,andcausefear.Suchtabooedthingsincludedisease,disabilities,death,sex,bodyexcretionandbodyeliminationprocess,etc.Peoplecanuseeuphemismstotalkaboutwhatcannotbetalkeddirectly.4.1.1IntermsofdiseaseanddisabilitiesPeopleyearnforhealth,andfearforspecificdiseaseandeverysortofdisability.Sopeoplealwaysusetactfulwaytoexpressthem.Forexample,sexualorvenerealdiseasesuchassyphilis,gonorrhoea,ADIS,etc.arecalledsocialdisease,communicativedisease,etc.inEnglish.Besides,disabilitiesareverysensitiveareaineveryculture.InEnglish,thedisabled,thehandicapped,theinconvenienced,theinvalid,auditoryimpaired,hardofhearing,talkwithonesfingers,etc.areputintoservice.9Soeuphemismplaysaveryimportantfunctioninoursocialcommunication.Withoutit,wesometimescannotcontinueourtalk.4.1.2IntermsofdeathDeathisaninevitablestageattheendoflifesjourney.Itiscommonexperienceofhumanbeings.Yetithasbeenthesourceoffearfearofthelossoflovedonesfearoftheendofoneslifefearoftheactualprocessofdying.Therefore,allthesefears,worries,andunpleasantfeelingscombinedleadtoverbaltabooofdeath.Euphemismsconcerningdeathareextremelyrich.InEnglish,therearemorethanseventyeuphemismsfordeath,includingtobegone,tobegonetoabetterworld,tobewithGod,tobreathoneslast,tocloseonesday,todepartfromtheworldforever,todeparttoGod,tofallasleep,jointhegreatmajority,passaway,etc.10Nomatterwhythiswordisusedinacertainlanguage,peoplealwaystendtouselessharshwords4.1.3Intermsofsex,bodyexcretionandbodyeliminationprocessWordsrelatingtosex,procreationandexcretionarehighlyrestrictedtomentionbecausetheymayevokedisgustingresponsesofpeople.Verbaltabooonthemisprobablymotivatedbytheintuitivedisaster,shame.Peopleallhavecertainfeelingsofwhichtheyaresoashamedthattheydontliketoadmiteventothemselves.Inpeoplesdailylifeorinsomeformaloccasion,ifthetalkordiscussionreferstosomethingaboutdrainage,peoplewilltrytoavoidusingvulgarlanguage.Theytendtousesomeimpliedorneutralwordstomakeconversationcomfortable.Forordinarypeople,thesafestwaytoavoidmentioningthesethingsthattheyhavetomentioninmanycircumstancesistouseanotherexpressioneuphemismtoreplacethetruenameofsuchathing.Forexample,inEnglishtherearemanyelegantexpressionsforgoingtoWC,suchastowashoneshand,tospendapenny,togoandseeonesaunt,toanswerthecallofnature,becausenaturecalls,etc.11Thetopicconcerningbeingpregnantistouchybecauseittendstoarousetheassociationwithsexualbehaviors.Tobeatroundbushesisverynecessary,suchaswithchild,anticipating,exceptingforpregnant,etc.12Talkingaboutsexualintercourseistaboo.Expressionsrelatingtosexhaveheavilybeenveiledforthepurposeofavoidingawkwardnessandoffense.Sopeopleuseeuphemisticwordstotalkaboutit.Forexample,peopleevadesayinghipdirectlywhichisreplacedwithbuttock,bottom,onesthing,andsecretpartsdonatessexorgansofbothmalesandfemales.134.1.4IntermsofoldageEnglishandChinesehavedifferentfeelingsaboutoldage.AChineseisproudofbeingold,whereasawesternerwillfeelirritatedandeveninsultedatmentioninghisoldness.InEnglishculture,peopledonotdescribeothersasortobedescribedasoldbecausetheold,whonolongerwork,areignoredbysociety.Therefore,peoplecreatethesecondchildhoodgoldenyears,seniorcitizen,grayhair,maturegoldenagewhentheyrefertooldageinwhichitattemptstoconcealthefactofbecomingoldandavoidarousingoldpeoplessadfeelingofaging.144.2ThepolitefunctionofEnglisheuphemism.Politenessisanotherimportantfunctionthateuphemismsserveinthesociallife.Politenessisthesymbolofhumanscivilizationandoneoftheimportantprinciplesguidingpeoplesactivities.Asakindofsignificantsocialactivity,languageactivitymustobservethisprinciple,too.Whenwehavetotalksomethingunpleasant,weshouldchooseeuphemisticwaytoexpressinordernottohurtothers.Beingpoliteisareasonableactionthatanyonewhoiskeenonfacesavingwilltake.Thepolitefunctionofeuphemismistriedtoavoidbeingharshorimpoliteinthecommunication.Inotherwords,euphemismsaretominimizeimpoliteexpressionsandmaximizepoliteexpressions.Forinstance,whenateachercommentsonastudentsmoralconductsandschoolworkinfrontofthestudentorhisorherparent,heorsheshouldreportthefactononehand,andontheotherhandshouldtakeintoconsiderationthestudentspsychologicalenduranceandtheparentsface.SotheeuphemisticwaytoexpressmightbeThestudentisabitslowforhisorherageinsteadofThestudentisstupid.15ThepolitefunctionofEnglisheuphemismisembodiedineveryoccupationallanguage.Occupationaldiscriminationgivespeoplepressureandemotionalirritation.Althougheuphemismscannotuprootthiskindofphenomenon,atleast,theycangivethemsomepsychologicalcomfortbyupgradingofcareername.Therefore,engineer,manager,etc.havebecomemoreandmorefashionable.Dustmanischangedtosanitaryengineermechanictoautomobileengineer,gardenertolandscapearchitect,shoemakertoshoerebuilder16InEnglish,therearemanyadjectivesaboutpeoplesappearance,suchasgoodlooking,handsome,pretty,charming,attractive,etc.Theyareallcommendatorywords.Whentalkingaboutsomeonewhoisnotpretty,wecannotuseuglyorawfully.Wehadbetterusesomeeuphemismssuchasplain,ordinary,notparticularlylooking,etc.insteadofthem.Soeuphemismspolitefunctioncansavepeoplesfaceintheirprocessofcommunication.Itissoimportantthatwecannotneglectit.4.3ThecosmeticfunctionofEnglisheuphemismBesidestheevasiveandpolitefunction,euphemismhasthecosmeticfunction.Thiskindofeuphemismisusuallyusedinthegovernment,military,politicsandcommerce.Itreferstousinggoodwordstobeautifythings,whicharenotbeautifulinrealityandmakethethingbemorepersuadedandacceptable.Becauseeuphemismhasthenatureofvagueness,tosomeextent,itisdeceptive.Traditionallyspeaking,euphemismplaysapositiveroleinsociallife.Usingit,peoplecanavoidsomeembarrassedandungraciousoccasion.Butjustaseverycoinhastwosides,euphemismhasnoexception.Using

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