Critical Reasoning- Euphemisms

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Critical Reasoning- Euphemisms

Euphemisms in use seem to change every generation or so – a tendency towards which we often roll our eyes. But the fact is that a word is always redolent of various associations and metaphorical extensions beyond its core meaning. Indeed, a word is like a bell tone, with a central pitch seasoned by overtones. As the tone fades away, the overtones can hang in the air. Words then bias as equivalents to the overtones. As we move on the euphemism treadmill then, from ‘crippled’ to ‘handicapped’ to ‘disabled’ to ‘differently abled’, we acknowledge the eternal gulf between language and opinion. In a linguistically mature society, we should expect that the terms we introduce to help us kick off new ways of thinking will require periodic replacement, like tyres.

What is the main idea of this paragraph?

  1. All words wear out with use, like tyres, and need to be replaced periodically with more meaningful equivalents.
  2. The eternal quest for euphemisms to bridge the gap between language and opinion is tedious.
  3. We must accept the euphemism treadmill as an essential part of linguistic life in a civilized society.
  4. Euphemisms help us avoid the trap of thinking too much into the meanings of words.
  5.  

    • Correct Answer
      Choice C

    Detailed Solution

    The main idea of the paragraph is that though we get annoyed when euphemisms in use change every generation or so, they are an essential part of life in a “linguistically mature” society. The paragraph justifies this by saying that over time, words acquire bias– associations and meanings beyond their core meaning. So much so, that these overtones are later understood to be the actual meaning of the word. It is because of this “eternal gulf” between language and opinion that we are forced to move on the “euphemism treadmill” from one euphemism to another to refer to the same thing/idea, in order to kick off new ways of thinking. As part of linguistic life in a civilized society, we have to accept that euphemisms will require replacement at regular intervals, much like tyres.

    Now, option A states that “All words wear out with use, like tyres, and need to be replaced periodically with more meaningful equivalents.”

    The paragraph only addresses the need for changing euphemisms, which it compares to changing tyres. Option A generalizes this to “all words”. This is hence not the correct option.

    Option B states, “The eternal quest for euphemisms to bridge the gap between language and opinion is tedious.”

    The paragraph argues that euphemisms are an essential part of life in a civilized society. It doesn’t say that this quest is wearying.

    Option C says “We must accept the euphemism treadmill as an essential part of linguistic life in a civilized society”.

    This, clearly, is the main idea of the paragraph. Instead of “rolling our eyes” at changing euphemisms, we have to accept them as part of life in a linguistically mature society.

    Option D states that “Euphemisms help us avoid the trap of thinking too much into the meanings of words.”

    The paragraph talks about words acquiring meaning beyond their core meanings. Changing euphemisms help us convey ideas by removing the biases that pile on over time. This is not the same as saying that thinking too much into the meanings of words is a “trap”. Also, between options C and D, C is better.

    So the correct option is (c).

    Correct Answer: Choice (c)



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