УДК 81'276.6


Торубарова Ирина Ивановна1, Стасенков Арсентий Витальевич2
1Воронежский государственный медицинский университет имени Н.Н.Бурденко, старший преподаватель кафедры иностранных языков
2Воронежский государственный медицинский университет имени Н.Н.Бурденко, студент 2 курса лечебного факультета

В статье дается краткая характеристика эвфемизмов и эвфемизации в профессиональной медицинской сфере; анализируются способы и приемы эвфемизации, рассматриваются этические аспекты употребления эвфемизмов.

Ключевые слова: профессиональная медицинская лексика, эвфемизмы, этические аспекты употребления эвфемизмов.


Torubarova Irina Ivanovna1, Stasenkov Arsenty Vitaliyevich2
1Voronezh N.N.Burdenko State Medical University, Senior Lecturer of the Foreign Languages Chair
2Voronezh N.N.Burdenko State Medical University, Second-year student of the General Medicine Faculty

The article briefly characterizes use of euphemisms in the professional medical sphere; it describes techniques to create euphemisms. The article also covers ethical problems of euphemisms use in the speech of health care professionals.


Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Торубарова И.И., Стасенков А.В. Peculiarities of communication in medicine: euphemisms // Современные научные исследования и инновации. 2016. № 12 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: https://web.snauka.ru/issues/2016/12/75555 (дата обращения: 20.01.2022).

INTRODUCTION. A euphemism is “the substitution of any unauthorized or unwanted word or expression into more correct one in order to avoid direct naming of everything that can cause negative feelings, and also for the purpose of concealment of certain facts of reality” [2]. Therefore, the main objectives of communication that lead to euphemisms appear to be as follows:

  • the main purpose of the speaker to  use euphemisms in social and interpersonal relations is a desire to avoid communication conflicts and communicative feeling of discomfort. In other words, the euphemisms are dictated by a sense of delicacy or political correctness;
  • more specific – in a social sense – is another purpose of euphemisation: obfuscation, camouflage of the essence of matter. Certain thematic groups of euphemisms become productive in different languages at different times.

DISCUSSION. Dynamic socio-economic changes in modern society contribute to the fact that social euphemisms are becoming the most productive in many modern languages. Euphemisms are widely used in the speech of medical professionals to refer to these or other diseases (e.g., alopecia is baldness) or human physiology (урина instead of моча in Russian, etc.).
For systematic study of euphemization euphemisms should be differentiated from cryptology, or concealed (hidden) speech. A euphemism expresses polite (sometimes falsely polite), smoothing direct meaning of the sharp, rough or intimate statement. Concealed (hidden) speech is a language of particular social groups, created in order to communicate closely within the group and  incomprehensible to those segments of society that are not included in this social group.

To define a word as a euphemism it is necessary to consider the context and situation of its usage. For example, the same word in medical practice can be described as a euphemism in one case and a hidden word in another. Compare the situations, when a doctor tells his patient that he has pediculosis, and the patient understands the meaning of the word; and different situation when a  doctor says to another patient, suffering from pediculosis, provided that the patient does not know the meaning of this term. In the second case, the term is used not to soften the statement, but to hide the meaning of a transmitted message. (a patient knows meaning and understands – COMMUNICATE; a patient does not know and understand – HIDE THE INFORMATION)

A euphemism conceals improper expression (rude or polite) but gives the meaning clearly and distinctly. There are several techniques to create euphemisms. They are:

  • abbreviations, e.g. B.O. (body odor), W.C. (toilet) etc.
  • using foreign words to replace an impolite expression, e.g. faux (fake), or faux pas (foolish error) etc.
  • abstractions, e.g. before I go (before I die).
  • indirect expressions,  e.g. rear-end, unmentionables etc.
  • using special terms, e.g. gluteus maximus, flatulence for farting, perspiration for sweat, mentally challenged for stupid etc.
  • deliberate mispronunciation of an offensive word, e.g. darn, shoot etc

Euphemisms are frequently used in everyday life. The examples of the most common euphemisms are:

  • You are becoming a little thin on top (bald).
  • Our teacher is in the family way (pregnant).
  • He is always tired and emotional (drunk).
  • We do not hire mentally challenged (stupid) people.
  • He is a special child (disabled or retarded) [3].

The use of euphemisms in medicine is traditional in nature (from ancient times there was taboo on the use of disease names or mention of death). In addition, in medical practice there are often discussed such phenomena of natural and human physiology, that are not accepted in the society or can cause human discomfort, for example, “fatal case” instead of “death”, “growth” instead of “cancer” etc.

It is noteworthy that the special terminology having neutral meaning, is often not limited by the  professional sphere only but goes into everyday use. Compare “consumption” and “tuberculosis (TB)”: the latter is currently used more often.

CONCLUSION. Thus, we can conclude that:

  • when studying euphemisms functioning in professional communication, it is important to distinguish this phenomenon from related phenomena;
  • specificity of formation and use of euphemisms is largely dependent on the specificity of the professional environment, and goals and objectives of the professional activity in general.

  1. Osipov A.V. Peculiarities of euphemization in professional communication. Vestnik Chelyabinskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta [Reporter of Chelyabinsk State University], 2011, No. 33, pp. 109-111. (in Russian)
  2. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/euphemism
  3. http://literarydevices.net/euphemism/
  4. http://www.multitran.ru/c/m.exe?a=3&&s=rear-end&sc=577&l1=1&l2=2

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