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Arabic Euphemism: the Question of Politeness in Translation

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The article explains euphemism definition and shows the main characteristics of euphemism and the use of it in several discourses. It provides Arabic examples of euphemisms that been used by native speakers of Arabic language. Also, it explains the reason behind using this linguistic politeness strategy. In addition the study expose the use o euphemism in the old classical Arabic with examples occurred in the holy Quran. The study also sheds the light on the importance of the cultural aspect in using euphemism and how this use varies between different cultures.

Methodology: The study opens up with a detailed definition of euphemism, that it is a linguistic politeness strategy whereby an offensive expression and replaces it with one that carries a positive attitude. That includes examples of a number of jobs terms which clear out the use of euphemism to give a positive attitude toward these jobs. Ex.: replacing the term garbage man with cleanliness worker. Then, the study points out that euphemism may express both negative politeness which involve attending to the producer’s own face wants in order to avoid his loss of face , or positive politeness which involves seeing to the receiver face wants for the purpose of expressing solidarity with him. The article argues that the linguistic of euphemism in Arabic is extremely sparse.

There are only a few mentions of it, and the study provides the Arabic definition of euphemism : التلطف للمعنى الحسن حتى تهجنه و للمعنى الهجين حتى تحسنه . Also, the use of euphemism in Arabic linguistics is the employment of a non-preferred expression in a context where it acquires pleasant connotations or vice versa which differs from the English linguistic use of euphemism. The study gives us great examples that occurred in the holy Quran which presents the use of euphemism. Plus, showing how the holy Quran alone constitutes a rich source for euphemistic expressions intended to avoid blunt or taboo expressions which are Clearfield in the two verses below: (al-nisaa, verse 43)

اذا جاء احدكم من الغائط او لامستم النساء. ‘If one of you has come back from defecation or you have touched women.’ فلما قضى منها وطرا زوجناكها. ((al-ahzaab, verse 37 ‘After he had got his need from her, we married you to her.’ And that’s by referring euphemistically to the sexual intercourse as ‘touching’ in the first verse and ‘getting his need from her’ in the second verse. In addition, the study emphasizes the replacement of some terms in Arabic with euphemistic expressions so it can be accepted socially. Ex. ‘’He put an end to his life’’ instead of committing suicide or ’’ He gave you his life’’ instead of ‘’He died’’.

Conclusion: Euphemism has been used in Arabic linguistics and it is a linguistic politeness strategy used to give offensive or hurtful expressions a social acceptances. In addition the holy Quran is a clear example of using euphemism in Arabic linguistic to avoid blunt or taboo expressions in areas such as sex and bodily effluvia, among others.

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