Type: Exploratory
Pages: 5 | Words: 1486
Reading Time: 7 Minutes

As usually happens with most dangerous or censored things, marriage related matters are somehow tempting and fascinating us. The power of marriage compels language users to protect or violate it. They, therefore, resort correspondingly either to euphemism or to dysphemism. Euphemism is the semantic process by which a term’s explicit aspects are exposed. Dysphemism is the process by which the explicit traits of a term are concealed. Contradictions towards marriage are especially noted in the cases of sex, polygamy, same-sex marriages and gender roles. There are several factors that necessitate the use of euphemism and dysphemism in marriage, one of which is culture. Marriage concepts and issues are deeply embedded in the culture. Communication about marriage, particularly in a multicultural society, where members have varied cultural backgrounds, needs to consider this aspect. Words and their connotations are not rigid as often presented in dictionaries. Apart from intellectual meaning, there are also cultural connotations, which are not shown in the vocabulary definition. Words like “nuptial”, “wedding”, “bridal”, “matrimonial”, “marital”, “conjugal”, “connubial”, “wedding ceremony”, “marriage ceremony”, “matrimony”, “wedding” and “divorce” can lead to misunderstanding in a multicultural dialogue. However, communication difficulties do not only occur at word levels. Communicative difficulties associated with speech undertakings, use of metaphors and presupposition are common but not easily identified. In regards to marriage, it is crucial to examine the role of culture as an element in improving the communication efficiency in a multicultural dialogue, particularly in matters relating to divorce and separation.

The relationship between culture, communication and marriage has been an extraordinarily multifaceted theme which infuses various academic disciplines such as sociology, and linguistics, psychology. The complex relationship arises in intercultural discourse where couples, their families and society show their cultural positions, behaviours and challenges which may occur due to the cultural battles. Some cultures may refer to marriage as nuptial, especially when signing pre-nuptial agreements. Pre-nuptial agreement is a kind of contracts signed by the couples to prevent them from loss in case their union breaks. In this context, phrases such as “marital agreements” may bring challenges to the understanding of the concept. In such cases, the most appropriate term to use is “nuptial”.

Another situation that calls for euphemism and dysphemism is where one man has many wives. Some societies have accepted this issue into their daily routine while Christians, for example, view it as a taboo. In strong Christian backgrounds, one man is entitled one wife. Individuals who defy this principal are referred to as adulterous. In other societies, one man is permitted to marry several wives. In such situations, the most appropriate word to use is “polygamy”.

Recently, marriage has weakened with grave, negative significances for society. Four problems are particularly troubling: divorce, cohabitation, illegitimacy, and same-sex marriage. Marriage defends children, women and men, and the public good. The strength of marriage is predominantly critical in a free culture, which depends on residents to govern their lives and rear their children dutifully, so as to minimize the scope, size and power of the government. The nation’s withdrawal from marriage has been principally consequential for our society’s most susceptible communities. The minorities and the deprived pay a heavy price when marriage decays in their societies. Marriage also presents women and men as spouses, a common and complete offering of the self. Thus, marriage comprehended as the lasting union of husband and wife is a virtue in itself and also develops the public interest. One of the major characteristics of marriage is that it is a personal association, intended for the entire life of a husband and his wife. In the last four decades, marriage and family have experienced increasing strain from the modern nation, the economy, and culture. This view of marriage strongly objects the fact that same-sex marriages are on the rise in the today’s society. Euphemism has often been used to portray clear objection to marriages amongst individuals of the same sex. In strong religious societies, they have been referred to as gay or homosexual. Changing sexual values have necessitated different ways of discussing marriage. Unlawful unions have been on the rise and have gained society’s acceptance, thus triggering use of dysphemism. The term “cohabitation” has become a central feature of our social landscape. It sounds more acceptable and is more preferred when referring to people living together without a legal marriage certificate. Conversely, some organisations in the society are strongly opposed to sex before marriage. These groups believe that people should only live together once they have made a holy union as prescribed in their holy books. In protest over these “unholy” acts, they use euphemisms to display their stand. Such has made use of words like “illegitimacy” common in their vocabulary.

Matters related to termination of marriage have also evoked use of various words to alter people’s reactions to it. Until today, the sociological research on the effect of marriage termination on children is limited to aspects of their security: health, psychological well-being, educational performance, marital and relational behaviours, etc. Research that compares the effects of marriage termination on the well-being of children focuses on the societal outcomes of divorce in the modern world. However, it can be argued that relations between marriage termination and viewpoints about society of their children might exist. Marriage termination may affect the connection of the children to their parents, either through the termination itself, or by the parental conflicts before and after the termination. A secure affection of children to appropriate adults is an indispensable element of the balanced psychological growth of children. Also, the coerced choice to live with either of their parents after the break-up might upset the attitudes and beliefs of the children concerned by the subjective socialization of the co-resident parent. In the attempt to build positive attitudes in the children’s minds, various terms have been developed to refer to marriage termination. Referring to the acts as separation would help the children in accepting that their parents are simply living in different houses, which reduces the shock that such children might suffer. In social situations where adults are discussing the act of marriage termination, it would not be harsh to refer to the situation as a split-up. Advocates of marriage in society, such as the churches, are strongly opposed to the fact that couples should separate once things take the downturn. They criticize marriage termination by use of harsh words such as “divorce”, “split-up”, “annulment”, among others.

Gender roles in the society have also necessitated the use of euphemism and dysphemism while referring to marriage. By the 21st century, only an insignificant minority of people still believe that women should be subjective to men. While various sorts of gender disparities continue to exist, they are regarded in entirely different contexts of societal norms. Male domination has not vanished, but it is diminishing and its foundations are crumbling. Now, this view about gender and sex leaves entirely open the extremely challenging question of what range of disparities in gender relations is soundly possible. It is a vital question if one holds to a democratic conception of social justice and fairness. From a democratic viewpoint, gender relations are just if males and females have equitable power and even autonomy, which is termed as “democratic gender relations.” However, this does not suggest that all men and all women do precisely the similar things, but it means that gender relations should not produce unequal chances and choices for women. While referring to marriage, individuals who are strongly inclined to democratic gender relations are more likely to use terms that inclined to gender equality. They may use terms such as “matrimonial relationships”, which show that each partner in the union has equal rights and equal responsibilities. However, this is contrary to the beliefs of the small minority of people who still believe that women should be inferior to men. Their definition of marriage is, therefore, “a conjugal relationship between a man and a woman”; this term is viewed as a euphemism by various gender activists.

The view of marriage has been varied between people of all ages. Early marriage is a violation of several human rights conventions. Girls are coerced into marriage by their parents who hope to get social and financial benefits. Thus, it compromises their overall growth, leaving them socially secluded with limited education, opportunities and skills for self-realization and employment. These young girls grow up having a bad attitude towards marriage and relationships. Human rights activists use harsh words to refer to marriages that involve under aged girls. The term “juvenile marriage” is the most common amongst opposes of such unions. On the other hand, the husbands of those underage children, in an attempt to support their behaviours, refer to their union as a wedding.

The term “marriage” has had various euphemisms and dysphemism depending on the society’s point of view and attitudes toward the matter. Euphemisms on marriage include terms such as “conjugal union”, while “wedding” is an example of dysphemism.

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