The Instigator
Rob1Billion
Pro (for)
Winning
38 Points
The Contender
Tatarize
Con (against)
Losing
29 Points

On balance, Euphemistic language causes more damage to our culture than it does good In the USA.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/17/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,470 times Debate No: 8322
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (19)
Votes (11)

 

Rob1Billion

Pro

Please be aware of the 2,000 character limit.

Euphemisms cause more harm than good in our culture.

I just bought an invisible fence for my dog. Instead of telling me the dog would be electrically shocked when she nears the edge of my yard, the trainer told me she would be "issued a correction".

I saw a tow truck last year that caught my eye. Apparently the owner of it wants to advertise that he services "late model" automobiles (old cars). Isn't "late" supposed to mean "later"? Like as in newer?

Toilet paper is now called bathroom tissue.

I am getting annoyed by the softening of our language. I believe that marketing by business interests is causing subtle damage to our culture by redefining ideas and changing perspectives. This causes fault and subjectiveness in our ideologies, beliefs, and practices.
Tatarize

Con

You silly goose, euphemisms are part of the language. If we spent all the time saying what we mean, culture would be a much duller place and our curse words wouldn't have any effect at all! You don't damage culture with culture.
Debate Round No. 1
Rob1Billion

Pro

Pardon me, I should have given a formal definition of euphemistic language, here is a quote from the GOD of reference and reliable foundation of truth, Wikipedia: "A euphemism is a substitution of an agreeable or less offensive expression in place of one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant to the listener".

Con made three points which were not directed at my contentions:

1. Can't damage culture with culture. Yes, euphemisms are part of the culture. This doesn't mean that a part of something can't harm the whole. Cancer is part of the body and it definitely can harm it.

2. Ability to be profane. Your point is backfiring on you. Profanity is the exact opposite of euphemistic language. If euphemistic language means to use a less offensive phrase, than please explain exactly how this hurts our ability to be profane.

3. Culture would be duller. Trying to be less offensive is dull? Please extrapolate on this point; I don't follow. You can still have fun with language without euphemisms, can't you?

To continue with my unchallenged points, I believe that our euphemisms are damaging our ideas and our ability to communicate. If we are making up new words and phrases that are less offensive, we lose some of the essence of the concept that we are protecting against. My confusion about the "late model" cars, for example. This is inefficient and confusing; it impairs our ability to communicate.

Our ideas suffer as well. Our ideas are held in place by exact, clear definitions. If we start to replace our ideas with euphemistic expressions, we are damaging our understanding of these ideas. For example, the dog trainer telling me that the dog is only being "corrected" doesn't convey the full meaning of the phrase "electrically shocked". Perhaps I don't think "correction" is that bad, so I'll be less sensitive to the needs of my puppy and she will be shocked unnecessarily :( -please see profile pics of Caramel for full emotional impact of this contention
Tatarize

Con

1) Cancer is not part of your body. There is no cancer part of your body. Cancer is a set of diseases characterized by uncontrolled cellular reproduction.

2) If people didn't use euphemisms then the power of swear words would decrease. The oomph of swear words are directly related to their common usage. If people were unable to use toned down words, then saying what you mean would have no shock value at all.

For example: you're a retarded cunt for offering this topic.

*GASP*

There'd be no shock value at all if everybody went around talking like that instead of using euphemisms as such.

3) Much of the vitality of culture exists in the levels. It's one thing for a girl to ask if you want some coffee and another thing to ask if you want some coffee. If not for euphemisms we'd lose these various levels and much of the coyness of culture. The ambiguity and the euphemisms and the doubletalk are all invaluable parts of culture. Integral and required for the overall health of our ideas.

So much of what is said is unsaid. Sure some huckster's use confusing things like "late model" cars to trip up people and draw in customers. But, these people are used car salesmen after all. That isn't a euphemism as much as it's a sales technique. You're asking us to discard a major section of our culture because you wrongly think it's harmful because some some used car salesman decides to use language. Bless your heart, but your wrong.

http://www.offthekuff.com...
Debate Round No. 2
Rob1Billion

Pro

My original points have yet to be addressed. extend

1. Wikipedia definition for cancer: Cancer is a class of diseases in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth. These are YOUR cells that went haywire and started dividing; you cannot successfully argue that the cancerous cells are not part of your body. In essence, your own cells start dividing and your own body works to kill itself. Besides, there are plenty of other examples where a part can damaged the whole. Criminals are part of society, yet they can and do damage the whole (Columbine). If society can damage society, then why can't culture damage culture?

2. "There'd be no shock value at all ..."
Why, exactly, would "everybody" be walking around calling people "retarded cunt[s]" just because euphemisms are no longer used? You allude to the fact that euphemisms save the potency of vulgarities, but I do not see the connection. They are opposites; what does trying not to offend someone with a word have to do with trying to offend someone with a word? Why exactly would vulgarities lose potency?

3. Our ability to hide things that are uncomfortable with euphemisms is a weakness, not a strength. Great Poets and writers do not hide behind non-offensive euphemistic language when creating their art; the best art is provocative; not designed not to offend. Our culture would improve if we tried LESS to not offend the sensitive. The vitality of culture is actually harmed by the euphemism; those who offend easily are sated by the euphemism much as those who do not wish not to exercise are sated by a desk job. In both cases fortitude is lacking.

Debating the finer points of culture with me is great. But the damage done when the euphemism "concentration camp" is circulated by a government so people don't realize that "death camps" are stripping people of their most basic human rights is more potent than the benefit of someone asking if you want her coffee.

Please discuss your link, not just post it.
Tatarize

Con

(10 minutes into video)

This debate is supposed to be a debate on euphemisms rather than cancer. Though cancers are diseases involving your cells they very much take on a life of their own. I rest my emphasis on the point of cancer not being a 'part' rather than not being 'yours'. Although there are a few transmittable cancers (among dogs and devils), it's not a point to discuss in the limited venue. Unlike cancer euphemisms are a part of our culture.

My point however stands, euphemisms are an integral point of language. Without euphemisms people would be required to say what they mean, and so much of what people mean is in what people don't say rather than what they do. You note that profanity and euphemisms are opposites and that's entirely the point, if you don't have euphemisms you only have profanity left. There's no ability to be coy with your insults or make understandable to one group that comprehends the euphemism and the other ironically lost in the literal meaning. We could only call people apt bits of profanity rather than save those to add oomph in places where they are needed.

Our ability to layer things, is a benefit to English and all language. It's a way of saying without saying, of being coy, of keeping a plausible deniability about us. "I do not bite my thumb at you sir, but I do bite my thumb!" The vagueness of language the ability to have euphemisms to say something that we mean in toned down language and wording, is an asset to language rather than a defect.

Euphemisms don't damage our culture, euphemisms are an integral part of our culture. It's like saying our livers damage our bodies, when our livers are part of our bodies.

You silly goose, bless your heart.

Thanks for reading.
Debate Round No. 3
19 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by AnomalyZero 4 years ago
AnomalyZero
The contender was arguing very strangely towards the end. His claims that without euphemisms, language would lose it's "omph" and weight to me seem to be precisely backward. Euphemisms make language LOSE it's weight because euphemisms prevent us from accurately describing reality.

A real life example. A student is performing inadequately in school. The teacher, believing that if she gives the student a bad grade, their emotional status will suffer tells the student that shes doing 'Ok' when really the student needs drastic improvement to be able to grasp and actually demonstrate capability in the subject.

The student believes their performance is adequate and therefore does not try any harder to do better. This causes problems because the student then does not truly learn or gain the skills they need.

Euphemisms are damaging in this way, they impair communication. Communication is the purpose of language. Language is a tool and it needs clarity to function correctly and well.

Euphemisms distort reality and don't present situations as they really are. When the person listening does not truly understand the intent of the speaker, or grasp the situation that is being conveyed, problems occur.

If I'm injured and I call for help I will get a very different response from someone if I say
"I have a cut" as opposed to "I won't stop bleeding" In a situation that demands immediate and fast attention, such as a cut that won't stop bleeding, a euphemism will impair communication and cause problems.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
sorry, I put a character limit on the debate so there really isn't any way for it to have become intensive.
Posted by artC 8 years ago
artC
It's too bad this debate didn't go deeper into the setbacks of euphemisms, as a philosophy student I very much agree that euphemisms are harmful to proper and honest dialogue. If we used more direct language in our every day lives, maybe we wouldn't need professionals to dissect the meaning of grandiose ideas which were built on evasive language and relay the meaning back to the general public.
Posted by RoyLatham 8 years ago
RoyLatham
Excellent debate topic. Con should have used a euphemism rather than profanity on this site.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
TAKE BACK THE VOTE KRF! j/k
Posted by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
I didn't use the word believe in my RFD, I used the word convinced, which is exactly how that element of voting is worded. In my assessment, Con had the most convincing arguments. I stand by my vote.

That being said, I recognize your instructions are well intended. The first two elements of voting are were voters get to voice their ideological leanings, but the remainder of the voting should be based on the merits of the debate alone and not influenced by pre-commitments.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
Remember, the "arguments" category has nothing to do with who you believe (that is handled by the agree before/after section). I am arguing (as usual) against the status quo, so you shouldn't be expected to believe me just to say that I argued the points better. Otherwise, just find every debate and vote on the title alone; it will be an exceptional rarity indeed where one debate actually changes your stance on an issue.
Posted by KRFournier 8 years ago
KRFournier
Both sides made good points and used good examples, but in the end, while Pro showed excellent examples as to how euphemisms could be damaging, I couldn't be convinced that euphemisms cause overall more damage than good. I gave tie votes in all categories except argument, which I gave to Con.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
Since the character limit option was released, I have never failed to use it. Long debates are not practical to read for voters (which means they really aren't voting fairly) and not challenging enough for debaters (long-winded arguments are a demonstration of ineptitude; debaters, like anyone who engages in the art of writing or speaking, must hone the art of succinctness).
Posted by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
Interesting topic and a short read. I needed one of these.
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