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Si en el último post veíamos eufemismos españoles, hoy damos un repaso a los ingleses. Seguro que os los habéis encontrado en algún momento e incluso os ha tocado traducir alguno que otro.

Por ejemplo, una persona ciega no es blind sino visually challenged, una persona entrada en carnes (otro eufemismo) no es fat sino full-figured y los políticos no mienten, lie, pero sí son economical with the truth. Si estás a dos velas, en lugar de broke es más bonito decir que tienes a temporary negative cash flow. Y si a causa de esto tienes que vivir en una barriada pobre, no le llames slum, llámale substandard housing, economically depressed neighbourhood o culturally-deprived environment.

El mundo laboral es terreno abonado para el eufemismo también, sobre todo en tema de despidos, que es lo más delicado. Como en la viñeta anterior, let go es una manera muy fina de referirse al despido, ¡como si la gente quisiera marcharse! Ocurre con make redundant, que a mí siempre me ha sonado a “eres redundante, sobras” y también es eufemístico el verbo dehire, como en la viñeta siguiente.

Sin embargo, un concepto recurrente en los eufemismos es la muerte. Si no lo habéis visto ya, os recomiendo este sketch de Monty Python en el que se enumeran las varias formas de hablar de la Parca. Alguna vez lo he utilizado en mis clases como actividad.

“E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This parrot is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible!! This is an ex parrot!”

Como en español, en las relaciones humanas suelen usarse los eufemismos para ocultar o no herir con una verdad incómoda:

Reality

Sarcastic euphemism

A bleached blond Peroxide dependant
A great butt A superior posterior
A great tan Pigmentally enhanced
A perfect body Anatomically gifted
An airhead Reality impaired
Bald Follicularly challenged
Blind Visually challanged
Body odour Nondiscretionary fragrance
Conceited Humbly challenged
Dishonest Ethically disoriented
Drunk or tipsy Chemically inconvencienced
Fat Horizontally challenged; person of substance; full-figured
Half naked Wardrobe impaired
Homeless Residentially flexible
Married or hitched Domestic incarceration
Perverted Sexually dysfunctional
Pissed off Satisfaction deprived
Por Financially inept
Pregnant Parasitically oppressed
Redneck Rustically inclined; person  of region
Rich Economically maximized
Sexist Gender biased with niceness deprived overtones
Small or short Vertically challenged
Tall Vertically gifted; altitudinally endowed
Ugly Under-attractive
Unemployed Non-waged

(Ahora ya lo sabéis, cuidado con cómo se describe alguien en un chat…)

En esta línea eufemística pero en un tono mucho más serio, una corriente muy actual en el mundo anglosajón es deshacerse también del lenguaje sexista. Para esto se propone cambiar las palabras terminadas con -man/-woman por -person, encontrar otro sustituto (policeman/woman – police officer) o emplear genéricos ( man – people, human beings).

En cuanto a los sujetos, se tiende a evitar el masculino “he” de diversas formas:

  1. Usar la forma plural de sustantivos y pronombres: All the students brought their own dictionaries.
  2. Cambiar la expresión para evitar el uso de un pronombre: Each student brought a dictionary.
  3. Usar la expresión his or her: Each student brought his or her own dictionary.
  4. Usar s/he: Each student brought the dictionary that s/he preferred.
  5. Usar el pronombre del plural their después de un pronombre indefinido: Everyone brought their own dictionary.

Además del sexo, otras preocupaciones lingüísticas a suavizar son las razas (no digamos “black”, digamos “African-American”), las enfermedades y minusvalías (mejor “people with disabilities” que “handicapped”), la edad (no diremos “old people”, es mejor “senior citizens”) o la orientación sexual (en lugar del adjetivo “gay/lesbian”, es más aceptable hablar de “same-sex”).

Entiendo que haya cosas que puedan y deban modificarse pero hay otras, como cambiar blackboard por chalkboard que rozan el ridículo, ¿no creéis? Más que nada porque la misma superficie de la pizarra es negruzca. En fin, veamos algunos ejemplos de estos eufemismos (que también podéis descargar aquí):

Insensitive Words & Phrases

Possible Alternatives / Euphemisms

Acting like wild Indians Out of control
AIDS sufferer A person living with AIDS
Bitchy or “PMSing” Assertive
Black sheep Outcast
Black/nigger/negro/coloured/Afro-American African American
Blackboard Chalkboard, board
Blacklisted Banned
Blind Visually challenged
Bums Homeless people
Businessman Business person, executive
Chairman Chairperson, chair
Deaf People with hearing impairments
Decrepit/senile/aged/ old/elderly Chronologically gifted/older person/senior citizen/seniors
Die Pass away, pushing daisies
Emotional cripple Difficult to express somebody’s emotions
Fat Overweight/Person of size/Differently sized person/Individual with an eating disorder/full-figured
Fireman Firefighter
Flip chart Easel (Flip is a derogatory word referring to Filipinos)
Gifted children Advanced learners
Guys (when referring to a mixed group) Friends; folks; group
Half-breed Multi-ethnic
Handicapped People with special needs; people who are physically/mentally challenged; people with disabilities
He He/she, s/he, everybody
His His/her, their
Indians Native Americans/’First Nations’ people
Insane/idiot/crazy/mad Mentally challenged or ill
Invalid/the handicapped/cripple Disabled/people with disabilities/physically disabled or challenged/differently abled
Jew down Negotiate
Job seeker’s allowance Unemployment benefit
Jungle Rainforest
Manhole Utility hole
Mankind Humankind
Man-made Artificial
Manning the project Staffing the project
Mentally retarded Developmentally challenged
Minority groups People of colour/Emergent groups/Traditionally underrepresented groups
No culture (when referring to parts of the U.S. where the opera and the theater are scarce or nonexistent) Lacking European culture
Old people Seniors; “Chronologically Advantaged”
Oriental (when referring to people) Asian (using the specific nationality, i.e. Korean is even better, when possible)
Oriental/Asiatic Asian (Pacific Islander, Chinese American, Korean, Indian )
Pet Companion animal
Policeman  Police officer
Policemen/postman Police officer/mail carrier
Poor Lower income bracket
Prostitute Sex worker
Race Ethnicity or nationality (There is only one race–human)
Retarded Developmentally challenged
Salesman /woman Sales person
Steward /stewardess Flight attendant
Swamp Wet land
The little woman; the wife Your wife; his wife
Ugly Esthetically challenged
Uneducated (when referring to adults) Lacking a formal education
Wheel-chair bound A person who uses a wheel-chair
White lie Lie (Calling it white does not make it okay)

Para terminar, os dejo un artículo muy interesante sobre los eufemismos más habituales en inglés:

Stop being coy

I will die, not pass away.

I am an old cripple, drawing an old-age pension, working hard to raise vast quantities of vegetables on an allotment, and well aware that, one of these days, I shall die. All this is fact.

If, however, I listen to the voice of officialdom, it turns out that I am a disadvantaged senior citizen, registered as disabled, drawing a retirement pension, renting a leisure garden, and presumably immortal, because I shall never die, I shall merely pass away.

The euphemisms which pour from the lips of politicians and trade union leaders are endless. Taking industrial action equals going on strike, and working to rule equals being bloody minded.

and let us please do away with the following:

  • lower income bracket (poor)
  • under the weather (ill)
  • low IQ (stupid)
  • jobseeker’s allowance (unemployment benefit)
  • Ministry of Defence (Ministry of War)
  • have a dialogue (talk)
  • companion animal (pet)

All this effort to avoid unpleasantness is certain to fail, because the euphemism quickly acquires the stigma of the word it replaced. I, and probably others, do not feel younger because I am called a senior citizen.

Bryan Heath (retired vet)

¡Hasta la próxima!

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