Misused: Unusual Euphemism

Deadlock Clock: 4th Feb 2014 11:59:00 PM
Total posts: [9]
From the first paragraph of the definition and the trope image, this trope is about speaking roundaboutly about an issue that is embarrasing or maybe of questionably legality.

However, the example section is huge, and covers a wide range of ersatz expletives.

Right now, UnusualExpletive is in YKTTW, and that can be used to split off a lot of the misuse.
2 SeptimusHeap31st Dec 2013 12:19:53 PM from Laniakea , Relationship Status: Mu
Personally, I think that "ersatz expletive" fits into the definition of "embarassing issue".
I'm going to paste in what I wrote earlier in the YKTTW:

Yes, there are examples where an euphemism is used as an expletive. But the two play fundamentally different roles in language.

  1. a word that contributes nothing to meaning but suggests the strength of feeling of the speaker
  2. a word or expression that is strongly impolite or offensive

Euphemism: a generally innocuous word or expression used in place of one that may be found offensive or suggest something unpleasant.


They are different within the work, ie the characters have different relations to the word.

An Unusual Euphemism is used because the characters for some reason are uncomfortable with using the "straight" word. Look at all the synonyms that have been used for the toilet. "Huge tracts of land" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail is another great example.

An Unusual Expletive is exactly what the characters mean to say. There is generally no phrase or word that has been substituted. The Captain of Tintin uses a huge range of original expletives, but they're not euphemisms. Likewise for "drokk" of Judge Dredd, or the exclamations of famous scientists in Luther Arkwright.

Goshdang It To Heck can be viewed as the intersection between the two usages: it's expletives that at the same time are euphemisms. In natural languages, these can further evolve into full expletives, and need a new euphemism.

Wick check tomorrow - I started one but realised I messed things up.
4 nrjxll31st Dec 2013 06:54:47 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
I think Unusual Expletive would make sense as a missing supertrope for things like Pardon My Klingon. The only reason I would see not to split it is that, from a out-of-universe standpoint, all examples would still be examples of Unusual Euphemism. But I think the in-work difference is enough.

edited 31st Dec '13 6:55:58 PM by nrjxll

[up] That distinction isn't true. The examples of expletives below are from Heart Of Empire:

  • "Buggers", "arsehole", "fucking", and other real common-world swear words.
  • "Great Dalton", "Isaac H. Newton", and other names of famous scientists used as expletives by the people in the ultra-scientific world of Valhalla Nova
  • "Fookin' fops", a case of Gosh Dang It to Heck! by choice of the speaker
6 nrjxll31st Dec 2013 11:00:16 PM , Relationship Status: Not war
Yeah, I should have said most examples. Which just emphasizes the point even further.
Wick check (50 of 2504):

Used for euphemisms:

Used for expletives in general:

Used for bowdlerizations (see also Gosh Dang It to Heck!)

  • Film.Casino (discussing the editing for TV)
  • Webcomic/Erfworld (every swear word gets changed to "boop")


Ununderstandable (to me) or zero content examples:

Plain wrong:

(Some examples are double-counted due to several instances of the wick.)

I get:

  • Correct usage: 16
  • Expletives in general: 6
  • Bowdlerization or beeping: 2
  • Potholes: 18
  • ZCE: 9
  • Wrong: 2

I get a different impression from the wick check than I got when I eyeballed the on-page examples earlier.

edited 1st Jan '14 2:31:53 AM by kjnoren

8 Willbyr1st Feb 2014 05:47:17 AM from North Little Rock, AR , Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
Clock is set.

The system doesn't know you right now, so no post button for you.
You need to Get Known to get one of those.

Total posts: 9