Euphemism is a kind of variation of language and is also the art of using language. The proper use of euphemism in business language can diminish conflict, establish harmonious interpersonal relationship，help promote the sale of goods and get more profit. So it is very important to study euphemism in business language. However, according to my knowledge, most of the study is on the function and translation of euphemism used in business English; study on the application of euphemism is little.
This thesis is to discuss euphemism in five chapters.
Chapter one talks about the definition of euphemism in narrow and broad sense.
Chapter two discussed the wide use of euphemism in business English: mainly in the address of some occupations, in business letters and negotiations.
Chapter three focuses on the purpose of using euphemism, mainly to satisfy the customers and get more profit.
Chapter four is the most important part; it mainly studies the device of euphemism in business English. Here, the attention is paid to the employment of passive voice, subjective mood, understatement, indirect expressions and the substitute.
Chapter five discusses the factors that we should pay attention to when using euphemism: the context and cultural background.
Chapter 1 Euphemism and Euphemism in Business English
Business English is widely used in international trade and the euphemism is more and more frequently used in business English. In order to use euphemism properly, we should know what is euphemism first.
The issue raised is the debtor(Ahmad) defaulted in paying monthly installment to the creditor(Easy Bank Bhd) which causes the creditor to repossessed the car. Ahmad has no right to oppose the term as he bought the car from the person that is not the owner, and the seller has no authority. Thus, the buyer does not acquire any title on the items. This refers to Nemo dat quad non habet in section 27 ...
1.1 Definition of Euphemism
Euphemism is a Latin word, the prefix eu means good, pleasant and well, and the root pheme means saying and speech. So the whole word means good or pleasant speech, or comfortable words. That is the substitute of an agreeable expression for another that may suggest something unpleasant. George Blunt, a 16th century writer of Great Britain, gave euphemism a definition that “ euphemism is a good or favorable interpretation of a bad word”(George Blunt, 1680).
According to the Language and Linguistic Dictionary, the definition is that “it is a way of expression to use implied and vague words to replace the unhappy and discourteous words”. It is a politer and better way of speaking when people talk something unpleasant or embarrassed.
Her mother passed away last month.
Pass away is used to substitute the word die and is easier for the listener to accept.
Euphemism can be divided into two categories: broad sense and narrow sense.
1.1.1 The narrow sense of Euphemism
According to Merrian-Webster’s Online Dictionary，the narrow sense of euphemism refers to words and phrases that are used as substitute for other offensive words which are accepted by people in certain situation after being used for some time.( Merrian-Webster’s Online Dictionary, 2003 )
For example, if we use the word crippled to describe a person, his or her felling may be hurt, and it is also impolite for the speaker to speak like this. So a euphemistic word handicapped exists and we use it to instead of the word cripple. This polite word protects the listener’s dignity and also expresses the speaker’s consideration.
We often use simple-minded instead of a mad person and In difficulties instead of in debt. These words now have already been accepted to replace those impolite expressions.
1.1.2 The Broad Sense of Euphemism
According to Merrian-Webster’s Online Dictionary, the broad sense of euphemism is a linguistic phenomenon, that is, to use various rhetoric and grammatical ways such as tense, affirmative and negative mood, to express euphemistically. （Merrian-Webster’s Online Dictionary, 2003 ）
Table of Contents INTRODUCTION 2 RECRUITMENT AND HIRING 5 EMPLOYEE RELATIONS 10 BENEFITS 20 VIRTUAL BUSINESS 23 LOGISTICS 27 CONCLUSION 32 BIBLIOGRAPHY 35 Introduction Germany, France, Norway, Asia, Africa, what do all these places have in common? They are all places where companies are doing business today. Technological innovations have created a new global marketplace at our fingertips. Even ...
Zeng Erqi gives us an example:
I wonder if you can lend me some money.
I wonder if you could lend me some money.（Zeng Erqi, 2003）
The difference between the above two sentences is that the second one uses the word could but the first one uses can. We know that the subjunctive word could is more polite than can, so the listener will be pleasant when he hears the second sentence. In this example, tense is used to speak euphemistically.
Let’s have a look at the following example:
Your price is disappointing, Mr. Smith.
Your price really is not encouraging, Mr. Smith. (Zeng Erqi,2003）
The second sentence uses negative word not encouraging, which has the same meaning with disappointing, but sounds better than disappointing.
1.2 Euphemism in Business English
Euphemism is widely used in business English, for example in occupation salutation we use undertaker instead of funeral director, and in business letters or negotiations we use we would like to do…instead of we must do….
What’s more, some vague word, such as, I think, I believe, I suppose, I’m afraid, by the way, can be used to express the imply meaning euphemistically.
Let us have a look at a example in Merrian-Webster’s Online Dictionary:
We can’t meet your request and reduce the price to that extent.
I’m afraid we can’t meet your request and reduce the price that extent. （Merrian-Webster’s Online Dictionary, 2003）
The phrase I’m afraid which is added in the second sentence makes the sentence sounds more polite.
In a word, euphemism is widely used in business English, and its practical use should be pay more attention to.
Chapter 2 Wide Use of Euphemism in Business English
As we point out above, euphemism is widely used in business English. Here we will discuss euphemism used in occupational, business letter and business negotiation.
2.1 In Occupation
Occupational euphemism is a polite salutation of people or career of comparatively lower social status. For example, waiter or waitress can be called dining-room attendant, security officer is called maintenance engineer.
The oldest English words are about 14,000 years old that originate from pr-Indo-European language group called “Nostratic” which means “Our language”. Words that have survived from this language group in modern English include: Apple (Apal) Bad (Bad) Gold (Gol) Tin (Tin) The oldest words in the English language are around 14,000 years old, originating in a pre-Indo-European language group called ...
More and more people would like to use euphemism because it can promote his lower social status. It is an energetic and vital component of euphemism that is used in modern times. It reflects need of improving contact even in verbal. Occupational euphemism enables our verbal communication to go smoothly. So those euphemistic expressions are also called “gilded words” or “cosmic words”.
There are two main reasons for the occupational euphemism to come into use.
Firstly, some discrimination may result from different occupational value. In the western countries, people are very sensitive to talk about their social status. The discrimination in occupation give people psychological pressure.(Huang Xueyun,1994)
Huang Xueyun gives us an example, garbage collectors’ income may be much higher than that of those who teaching in universities. However, as far as social status is concerned, the professor is obviously much respectable than the garbage collectors. Nobody will be willing to give up the teaching job but become a garbage collector in order to make more money.
Secondly, occupational euphemism is used to reduce some unpleasant imagination. Let’s have a look at the above-mentioned example again, garbage collectors usually connected with the messy package or bad smell. But the euphemism sanitation engineer emphasizes sanitation instead of garbage, thus reducing the unpleasant imagination.(Huang Xueyun,1994)
2.2 In Business Letter
A good business letters can help us promote the transaction, expand foreign trade and strengthen the relationship of two parties. In order to get our business goal, we must use proper language to express our viewpoint, such as, “Thank you for —”, “I’m sorry that —”, “We appreciate you —”, etc. All these expressions can make people feel pleasant. It can help promote relationship between the cooperators.
L /C will expire on 5th, July.
‘Lees Heginbotham & Sons Ltd ’provide floor covering and high quality carpets all over the UK. The services that it provides are: * free estimating, * free carpet removal, * a quality fitting to your standard * a free car park adjacent to the shop. * Competition? ‘Lees Heginbotham & Sons Ltd’ has quite a bit of competition. It is placed close to the ‘Spindles Shopping Centre’. Also there ...
L/C will be valid until 5th July.
The second sentence uses the passive voice to convey something unpleasant. It is much better to speak out directly and it is easier to be accepted.
The following sentence use indirect statement.
We would have answered you sooner, but your fax now arrived from other office.
This implies your fax was addressed to the wrong office. The speaker explains the other party’s mistake euphemistically and humorously. It can help us create friendly and tolerant atmosphere.
2.3 In Business Negotiation
We often use euphemism in business negotiation; let us have a look at the examples that Lv Caihong gives us.
For example, when the transaction is concluded we usually say,
A: Thank you for giving me your time. There is nothing like the business with you.
B: That’s very kind of you to say so. Well, here’s to our success.（Lv Caihong, 1994）
Unpleasant things sometimes happen during the process of business negotiation. Euphemistic expression can avoid the deterioration of the relationship and enable the negotiation to go smoothly.
Let us look at the following conversation.
A: The term is too short for us to make a profit. We suggest a three year contract.
B: Yes, I see. What sort of commission are you thinking of ?
A: Ten percent. We also like a fixed subsidy, at least in the early stages. This helps us make up for the high initial expenses of establishing a product.
B: Well, ten percent seems a reasonable. However I’m not sure about the subsidy.
A: A straight ten percent cannot cover our expenses in the initial stages.
B: We could perhaps have a sliding scale of commission without a subsidy for a period longer than three years .Say five years.
A: As you say, compromise on the length of agreement. I think five years is reasonable. （Lv Caihong, 1994）
In the above example, the two speakers use euphemism, such as suggest, this help us…, seem, I’m not sure and as you say. Those words express the speaker’s goal euphemistically, and help businessmen get their purpose easily. We can see that euphemism plays an important role in the whole negotiation and it is a very important in business negotiation.
Chapter 3 Purpose of Using Euphemism in Business English
The international business activities have come into a new phase ever since we entered the 21st century. This electronic age has made it possible for us to communicate simultaneously. The world is growing along with the trend of globalization. The ability to step up with the trend is a decisive factor for a modern businessman to get success. English, as a common language in the world, plays a significant role in business communication. How to use English precisely is a decisive factor to achieving the expected business goals.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY In the 1990s, the Australian telecommunications industry has undertaken one of the most dramatic changes in its history. For the very first time, Australians are no longer forced to contend with Telstra s monopoly in telecommunication services. With the deregulation of the industry in 1992 and again in 1997, the Australian Government has allowed new and experienced international ...
3.1 To Satisfy Customers
More and more companies have realized that customers’ satisfaction is the key to success in business competitions. They are striving to satisfy customers. Communication is the media for the companies and customers to contact each other. Euphemism is a great help for the businessman to win more customers, set up a prefect image and give their customers satisfaction and confidence. Businessmen intend to treat their customers politely and friendly not only in verbal communication but also in written form.
Wang Hongyun gives us a good example:
We will be very grateful if you can let us take delivery before the selling season.
We would be very grateful if you could let us take delivery before the selling season.
The two sentences express the same meanings, but if we speak in the way like the second one, it is more likely for us to satisfy our client and establish long-term relationship because of the use of subjunctive word, which is also an effective way to use euphemism to satisfy our customers.(Wang Hongyun,1998)
3.2 To Get More Profit
Nowadays, international commercial communication is becoming more and more important, and the relation between language and business is becoming closer. As a communication tool, language has become an effective way which helps us achieve our purpose in business.
The proper use of euphemism can help businessman to reach their expected economic goals and get more profit. In business communication, if we can make our customers pleased and touched, we can be sure to reach the economic goal.
Yang Xiao gives us a good example:
On12th July we ordered 110 cartons of pure cotton fabric. And we stressed the importance of package in strong sea-worthy cartons. But when the goods arrived we found the package did not comply with our requirement. Tell us what the matter is.
Here's your big chance to make some extra cash right out of your home. You won't believe how much money you can make doing this. You can easily make up to a $1000 weekly working only 2-3 hours a day. We will supply you with all materials to start making $4. 00 for every letter you process and mail out! The best part of all this is there is no limit! You can ship us back as many letters as you ...
Thank you for returning your invoices so promptly. However, we do need your signature on both pages. Just sign on the second page at the bottom and return it. We will then be glad to consider your demands.
Please look into the matter at once and let us know the result as soon as possible.
There are four sentences in the first letter. Though it is terse, it lacks of skills. The speaker spent three fourths of the letter to list a lot of facts, his real purpose is to point out the other’s mistake. The second and third sentences throw the other party into great embarrassment. In the last sentence, the speaker used compulsive mood without politeness .All of this reveals the author’s dissatisfaction and his narrow-minded thought. In fact, in the fulfillment of the foreign trade, both subjective and objective reasons can lead to the fail for the other party not to perform the contract. If one party put all blame to the other, it can only hurt the partner’s feelings and make side effect to the cooperation. The second letter uses polite and euphemistic expression to remind the client how to mark the signature. It does not focus on the other party’s mistake but on how to solve the problem. The author expresses politely when mentioning mistakes. Through the whole letter we can feel a natural, relaxed and cooperative attitude. (Yang Xiao,1998)
It is evident to see that the fate of the two salesmen will be different because of the different use of language.
The ultimate goal of business is to make the maximum profit. The proper use of euphemism can make the involved parties to cooperate well and achieve the expected economic goals.