Should we be lulled and sweetened by euphemisms when faced with decisions about what to do with animals who get in people’s way? Or should we speak openly and honestly about what is happening and not hide behind word substitutions to cover up what we are doing? People adopt euphemisms when they want their actions to sound impartial, necessary, professional and reasonable, so that consciences are saved and nobody objects to what they are doing.
This table lists a few frequently occurring euphemisms.
Some Frequent Animal-Related Euphemisms
|Cull, Control, Harvest
||People do not kill wild animals; they 'cull' and 'control' them and 'harvest' their populations.
||Beaches may be 'shark infested' but never 'human infested'.
||Roads do not kill anyone. It is the motorists who kill. Motorists kill millions of animals every year.
||Strictly speaking, meat is muscle. This does not stop supermarkets selling processed products which they describe as 'meat' but which can be from any part of an animal, such as lungs and brains.
||Calves for veal are raised in inhumane conditions.
, for example, is often employed as a euphemism when dealing with wild animals. It really means to select and remove some things from other things, especially because of their inferior quality. But it is almost always used as a polite word whose action is somehow necessary and officially sanctioned. So we get:
"...the Deer Commission for Scotland flew in a squad of marksmen by helicopter to carry out the cull of 80 deer on the famous Badenoch estate, over two days..." Strathspey and Badenoch Herald.
"A cull of 5,000 hedgehogs is due to begin on North Uist in the Western Isles of Scotland on Monday. Scottish Natural Heritage wants to get rid of all the hedgehogs on the Uist islands because they have been destroying colonies of wading birds." BBC News.
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Tire repair shop, New Orleans, USA. The sign forbids loitering, selling crack cocaine and "cat selling" (a euphemism for prostitution). NOPD refers to New Orleans Police Department. Photo: Infrogmation.