George Carlin on Euphemisms
I don't like words that hide the truth. I don't like words that conceal reality. I don't like euphemisms, or euphemistic language. And American English is loaded with euphemisms. 'Cause Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth. So they invent a kind of a soft language to protect themselves from it, and it gets worse with every generation. For some reason it just keeps getting worse. I'll give you an example of that.
There's a condition in combat, most people know about it, it's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum -- can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either (click) snapped or is about to snap. In the first world war, that condition was called "shell shock." Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables: "shell shock." Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago.
Then a whole generation went by, and the second world war came along, and the very same combat condition was called "battle fatigue." Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. "Shell shock!"..."Battle fatigue."
Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called "operational exhaustion." Hey, were up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. "Operational exhaustion." Sounds like something that might happen to your car.
Then of course came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceit surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called "post-traumatic stress disorder." Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen, and the pain is completely buried under jargon! "Post-traumatic stress disorder." I'll bet ya if we'd of still been calling it "shell shock," some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I'll betcha that. I'll betcha that.
But it didn't happen. And one of the reasons, one of the reasons, is because we were using that soft language -- that language that takes the life out of life. And it is a function of time. It does keep getting worse. I'll give you another example.
Sometime during my life, sometime during my life, "toilet paper" became "bathroom tissue." I wasn't notified of this. No one asked me if I agreed with it. It just happened. "Toilet paper" became "bathroom tissue."
"Sneakers" became "running shoes."
"False teeth" became "dental appliances."
"Medicine" became "medication."
"Information" became "directory assistance."
"The dump" became "the landfill."
"Car crashes" became "automobile accidents."
"Partly cloudy" bacame "partly sunny."
"Motels" became "motor lodges."
"House trailers" became "mobile homes."
"Used cars" became "previously owned transportation."
"Room service" became "guest-room dining."
And "constipation" became "occasional irregularity."
When I was a little kid, if I got sick they wanted me to go to the hospital and see the doctor. Now they want me to go to a "health maintenance organization," or a "wellness center" -- to consult a "healthcare delivery professional."
"Poor people" used to live in "slums." Now the "economically disadvantaged" occupy "substandard housing in the inner cities." And they're broke! They're broke! They don't have a "negative cash-flow position." They're f**king broke! 'Cause a lot of them were fired. You know, "fired"? -- management wanted to "curtail redundancies" in the "human resources area," so many people are no longer "viable members of the workforce"?
Smug, greedy, well-fed white people have invented a language to conceal their sins, it's as simple as that.
The CIA doesn't kill anybody anymore, they "neutralize" people, or they "depopulate" the area. The government doesn't lie, it engages in "disinformation." The pentagon actually measures nuclear radiation in something they call "sunshine units." Israeli murderers are called commandos. Arab commandos are called "terrorists." Contra killers are called "freedom fighters." Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part of it to us, do they? Never mention that part of it.