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Dysphemism: unpopular culture and disempowerment in a British bank

Author: Weeks, John R. INSEAD Area: Organisational Behaviour Series: Working Paper ; 98/72/OB Publisher: Fontainebleau : INSEAD, 1998.Language: EnglishDescription: 22 p.Type of document: INSEAD Working Paper Online Access: Click here Abstract: Euphemism is the use of a mild, comforting, or evasive expression in place of one that is taboo, negative, offensive or too direct. It is a ritual of politeness, but it is no less important for that. Authors as diverse as novelist George Orwell and sociologist Pierre Bourdieu have described well the link between euphemism and social control. dysphemism -euphemism's opposite- is "the use of a negative or disparaging expression to describe something or someone, such as calling a Rolls-Royce a jalopy". Like its antonym, dysphemism is often a ritual of politeness: signaling modesty, for example, when a host refers to a carefully prepared meal as something he or she just threw together. And, continuing the similarity, the authors draws in this paper from a twelve-month ethnographic study of a large British retail bank to argue that dysphemism may complement euphemism as a means of legitimating the exercise of control by allowing it to be purposefully misrecognized by all parties involved.
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Euphemism is the use of a mild, comforting, or evasive expression in place of one that is taboo, negative, offensive or too direct. It is a ritual of politeness, but it is no less important for that. Authors as diverse as novelist George Orwell and sociologist Pierre Bourdieu have described well the link between euphemism and social control. dysphemism -euphemism's opposite- is "the use of a negative or disparaging expression to describe something or someone, such as calling a Rolls-Royce a jalopy". Like its antonym, dysphemism is often a ritual of politeness: signaling modesty, for example, when a host refers to a carefully prepared meal as something he or she just threw together. And, continuing the similarity, the authors draws in this paper from a twelve-month ethnographic study of a large British retail bank to argue that dysphemism may complement euphemism as a means of legitimating the exercise of control by allowing it to be purposefully misrecognized by all parties involved.

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