Tuesday, June 13, 2006

On Euphemisms

A nonpolitical post, this time, as a way of getting warmed up. One on euphemisms, or weasel words, and especially on the way "resting" is used. We hear that a patient not likely to die right away is "resting comfortably", when the truth might be that the poor patient is in absolute agony. And then there is the "final resting place" and "being laid to rest" when one kicks the bucket. That's another euphemism though rather different in its connotations, by the way.

I doubt that being dead can be called "resting", but neither are "rest-rooms" places where we take a nice break from the day's activities. Or not just a nice break, ahem. Do tourists find this term difficult? Imagine standing there with your legs crossed and seeing signs only for boudoirs where it's easy to imagine that you might lie down for a bit.

"Resting" might be the most common euphemism of all. Actors "rest" when they can't find a job, and I let an article "rest" when it's bogged down and not going anywhere, even if it gets up all refreshed and ready to do battle.

"Resting" covers up things we'd rather not mention: illness and death, the need to pee, unemployment, failure. It really is too bad, because real resting is a wonderful activity, and one for which we have no far found no good euphemism.