Death Euphemism Analysis

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As a typical and common culture phenomenon in both Chinese and English communities, death euphemism, with its long standing history, has been regarded as a crucial component of euphemism, which is both linguistic and cultural ubiquitous in human language and social life since there exists unpleasant or offensive words so that individuals would substitute relatively indirect terms to avoid cultural sensitivity. This paper attempts to make a contrastive analysis of Chinese and English death euphemism and expound the causes of their similarities and differences from various aspects. To begin with, regardless of nations, religions or customs, individuals hold similar or, to some extent, same attitudes towards death, which is a law of nature that…show more content…
In Britain, for instance, British have a delight in drama, hence, there are many expressions related to theatre -- “to black out”, “to drop the curtain”, “the final curtain”; likewise, a number of death euphemisms are derived from the vocabulary of sports -- “to strike out” (baseball), “to lose the decision”, “the last count”, “be down for good”(boxing), “the final kickoff” (American football) and so on and so forth; there are also many other slangy expressions -- “to check out”, “to give up the ghost”, “to go to one’s last home”. Besides, western countries advocate individualism, with the influence of democratic systems, individuals pay more attention to equality and freedom, “All men are created equal.”, consequently , there is scarcely distinct ranks or status in euphemistic expressions of death in English. Conversely, In China, a country used to be a feudal society that was rigidly stratified, under such a social and historical background, together with the great influence of Confucianism, which traditionally emphasizes hierarchy and order, the death euphemisms are, in general, demonstrate powerful class division and grade differential, i.e. the death euphemisms are different from various ranks. For instance, the death euphemisms such as “驾崩”, “晏驾”, “升遐”, “宾天”, “大行”, “弃朝” can only be used for expressing the death of emperors in Chinese; “薨” for vassals; “卒”, “不禄” for scholar - bureaucrats; “玉碎”, “兰摧玉折” for noble men or philosophers, however, for ordinary men, they can only use terms “没”, “走了”, or compare death to sleep, or use “die”
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