Volume 17 · Number 1 · Pages 001–013
Euphemisms vs. Dysphemisms, or How we Construct Good and Bad Language

Andrey S. Druzhinin

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Context: Assuming upon the suggestion of dictionary makers and language theorists that some words are more pleasant than others and that it affects the way we should communicate, we put the cart before the horse and make a big categorial mistake. Problem: Negative and positive emotional reactions to words are not something that can be deduced from words themselves and predicted before the communicative interaction. Instead, it is when, where and who utters these words that makes them sound good or bad for us, as observers. Method: Based on the methods of experiential linguistic analysis of observational data I investigate philosophical roots and empirical manifestations of good and bad language in communicative interactions. Results: I formulate and prove the hypothesis that euphemisms and dysphemisms are experiential factors of our dynamic situational construction of others. Our construal of some words as good or bad depends upon the experience we have of another person with whom we interact in situ. Implications: Findings of my research illuminate the inherently experiential nature of language, which might lead sociologists and linguists to reconsider the way they approach the power of good and bad words. Moreover, it is argued to be neither possible nor necessary for scholars to make lists of euphemisms or dysphemisms, at least for non-written communication. Constructivist content: I rely upon the concepts of radical constructivism such as experience construction, experiential field, construction of others.

Key words: X-phemism, relativity of experience, relatability of experience, experiencer, communicative interaction, experiential analysis, linguistic meaning.


Druzhinin A. S. (2021) Euphemisms vs. Dysphemisms, or how we construct good and bad language. Constructivist Foundations 17(1): 001–013. https://constructivist.info/17/1/001

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