Thursday, 11 November 2010

Euphemisms



Alan Titchmarsh says people say Monty Don is more “cerebral” than him – ie more middle class.

the hustle and bustle of the city = common people we are forced to share the space with (the opposite is “tranquillity” = an absence of chavs. What you move to the country to find. May also be known as "peace and quiet" or "more space".)

Peter Wilby on the media response to the shooting of Rhys Jones, Sept. 2 07 The story was, to use the media academics' term, "framed" within 36 hours of the boy's death. "Gang war invades middle-class haven," was the Telegraph's headline. Rhys lived on a private estate of "hanging baskets", "ornamental water features" and "polished Audis and Mazdas" (the Times), "mock Tudor white-timbered gables" and "solar-powered garden lights" (the Independent). His killers came from "rotting, feral" council estates (the Telegraph) of "high corrugated iron fences" and "tattooed men . . . with small squat dogs" (the Independent).

The middle classes are leaving the state [educational] sector in droves … partly because they think their children will be mixing with pupils who will not help their child reach full potential. Nick Clegg, reported in the Evening Standard, Nov 23 07


More here. And many more in my mini ebook Boo & Hooray: Dysphemisms and Euphemisms (see sidebar).

all the advantages
private school
arriviste Someone who has "arrived" in "good society" from elsewhere

background
class origins

bohemian, liberal
knows people who aren’t in the top 400, or who don’t have three houses and three holidays a year

choice
getting your children into the best school Choice is considered a dirty word by many educationalists but parents – weirdly enough – are actually quite keen to push their children into better schools. This site helps them beat the system. Daily Telegraph Aug 10

classy
posh (but posh people would never say it)

coiffure
Mrs Salmond is carefully coiffured. Times May 14 07 (ie lower middle class) three well-manicured, coiffeured ladies [in Sedgefield] Guardian June 27, 2007 (and surely it should be coiffured)

community, involving the
“We” must involve the “community” in what “we” are doing. “We” are not part of the community. (It’s like thinking human beings aren’t part of nature.)
As in the local community, community picnic, community choir working-class or black people living in an area who need to be organised and have things laid on for them by patronising middle class people. The middle classes aren’t “the community” because they can afford to live where they like and are always moving on.

cut-glass accents
posh voice (New Statesman 2004. The same article calls the voice “absurdly affected”. It can only be affected if someone’s learned it in later life. New Statesman readers used to affect a working-class accent.)

dignified
black or working class (people we wouldn’t expect to be dignified) "Dignity" award for Walker family The family of murdered teenager Anthony Walker have been honoured for their "calm dignity in the face of tragedy". His mother, Gee Walker, accepted the first ever Profile in Courage Award from the National Black Crown Prosecution Association (NBCPA). bbc.co.uk Oct. 13 2006 Alan Johnson and his family are praised for their “dignity” all over the press July 07. Ie the family hid their feelings and didn’t show emotion – or did so only in a very controlled way. Middle class people don’t like anyone to show emotion in public – maybe because that’s what chavs do. Working class people in the news are praised by the broadsheets for “dignity” if they don’t show emotion; but they'll be pilloried by the tabloids. Dignity also means not selling your story to the media. “The Value of Dignity: A trial by media will not help to find the truth about Madeleine McCann” Times Sept 20 07

discerning
posh
down to earth has the common touch (if said of someone posh)

eclectic bunch
contains common people
folk working class people

gritty
(gritty reality, urban grit) working class, no Starbucks, not trendy “gritty publishers New English Library” Guardian December 5, 2007

guilty pleasure
doing something that lets the side down, like reading Heat or shopping at Costcutter
hard-working families Middle England (Gordon Brown)

heavy
common décor (heavy window treatments). Probably combined with “garish colour schemes”, “fussy” arrangements and “busy” patterns. (American)

hysteria
working class people protesting, story printed in tabloid

leafy
middle class (suburb, street) “...enjoyed a dappled upbringing in Hampstead” Guardian 3.20.02 (presumably the light was dappled after filtering through all those leaves) A Thomas Kinkade painting of a charming, rain-dappled village - complete with church steeple, families out walking the pet Dalmatian and thickets of flowers. salon.com “Dr Hunter offered the example of a school in a ‘better, leafy area’ that took three children in care…” Guardian October 16, 2003 "Cannabis plantation found in leafy suburb: Cannabis plants have been found growing at the site of a planned upmarket housing development in a wealthy Aberdeen suburb. Police have been called in after the plants were found growing in greenbelt woodland near the Milltimber area." Sat 31 Jul 2004 The Scotsman "Friendly female wanted for cosy houseshare in leafy suburb" "Desirable leafy suburb of Cleethorpes a short walk from the sea front." “Just because a school is in a so-called leafy suburb, that does not mean the parents are wealthy. Many will have stretched themselves to the limit to buy houses in the catchment areas of these schools." Guardian

like-minded
middle class

mainstream society
aspirant, law-abiding, tax-paying, willing to play the game, the bit some people are “excluded” from

mass audience
common people

Middle England
Martin Jacques has complained that Middle England is a "metaphor for respectability, the nuclear family, conservatism, whiteness, middle age and the status quo" New Statesman 25 Oct 07 (that’s a euphemism, Martin, not a metaphor)

mob
a lot of working class people
ordinary folk working class people (and you’d never say “middle-class folk”)
ordinary people common people, less-than-rich people

over-stuffed furniture
code for lower class “They live in a detached house obscured from a busy road by six fir trees and overgrown foliage, directly opposite the main entrance to Warwick university. "Tarl-Lea" reads the name plate fixed between the green garage door and the frosted glass of the porch through which can be glimpsed the twee furnishings of a comfortable family home: a tasselled lamp, an over-stuffed sofa and a slightly garish carpet.” July 7, 2000 The Guardian

people from all walks of life
including working class people, or maybe just working class people

posh
people never say “posh” but “smart” or “grand”. They mock people as “fratefully grahnd” and ever so “oysters at the Savoy”.

prominent
his family was socially prominent, though his performance was outstanding and the question was salient

showy
vulgar
simple working class "He came from a simple family." the BBC on James Callaghan

smothered in heavy/complicated sauces
common food (like over-stuffed furniture) The middle classes are anti-sauce, it makes food too like babyfood, ie easy to eat and tasty.

society
middleclass, law-abiding society (and probably white). "We" are unquestionably a part of it.
stuffy middle class in the wrong way
stylish posh (but posh people would never say it)

trendy
middle class
unspoilt (area of France) free of the wrong kind of Brits
unsuitable (boyfriend) common
urban working class (or black)

very English
(eg Elgar) middle class. There’s a sneer in calling something “very English”. Implies middle-aged, lives in shires, parochial, quaint, twee, old-fashioned, fusty, cosy. It's the opposite of diverse and vibrant – qualities valued by a different set of middle class people. Perhaps composers like Edward Elgar (Grainger, Butterworth, Vaughan Williams etc.) are tarnished by being used for nationalist rallying. But were they?

we, us
middle-class people

You’re overqualified. = You’re too posh (or too tall).
We think you’ll be bored. = We think you’ll look down on us. (And you're still too tall.)

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