Thursday, January 19, 2012

Euphemisms: How about a smoke and a drink?

Nifty article on the differences in euphemisms between cultures. A Chinese example:
One feature of Chinese euphemisms comes from the tonal nature of the language. Yan is slang for cigarettes; jiu means alcohol. But, with different tones, the two syllables together can also mean “to research”. So a corrupt official being asked to do something might suggest, “Let’s research (yanjiu) this issue together”, by which he would probably mean, “Give me some cigarettes and some alcohol and I’ll make it happen.”
andrewchen Euphemisms: Making murder respectable | The Economist, Jan 18 11:19:04 from Timely by Demandforce

1 comment:

  1. A clever twist in a mistranslation. I find this very amusing.