Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Another Losing Battle with Euphemisms

In response to Wednesday’s blog, Lydia Rivlin related this story in her e-mail this morning:

“Your item on insulting words, in which you point out that no sooner are they banned than they are replaced with new coinages, reminds me of an example from the Falklands war.  British soldiers started referring to the very unsophisticated Falklanders as “Bennies”.

Benny was a slow-witted, ill dressed character from a notoriously cheaply produced British soap opera called “Crossroads”.  When the officers heard of this, naturally they forbade any further use of the term Benny whereupon the soldiers switched to calling the locals “S.Bs” [“still Bennies”].

At least the battle for the Falkland Islands went better for the British than their battle with “Benny”.  Euphemisms have never lost a battle and never will.  They outnumber all the armies of all the countries on planet Earth.  Forget about it!

The most ridiculous aspect of taking them on in the first place is that even if they could be defeated, their defeat would have no effect on the attitude that spawns them.

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