The language of death and dying. A corpus study of the use of euphemisms in British and American English

by Gustavsson, Sofie

Abstract (Summary)
This essay is a corpus based study, aimed at determining which euphemisms for death American and British English have in common as well as which might be more specific for either of these two varieties of the English language. The study also shows the frequency in use for all of the chosen euphemisms and briefly mentions when they first were used. Six euphemisms concerning death and dying were selected out of numerous available expressions: deceased, pass away, perish, demise, the departed and fade away. In addition, the word die was also included in the investigation with the purpose of determining if euphemisms are more common.Cobuild Direct Corpus serves as the main source of the investigation and comparisons are made between the National Public Radio broadcasts and US books corpora for the American variety of the English language and the BBC World Service radio broadcasts and the UK books corpora for the British counterpart. In addition, the British English transcribed informal speech corpus was included to display the frequency in use in British spoken English.The analysis concludes that the use of euphemisms for death is not very common, which implies that people in our day of age are not as afraid of death as what is claimed to have been the case during earlier years.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Växjö universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:euphemisms death dying british and american english the cobuild direct corpus


Date of Publication:02/15/2007

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