Euphemistic Expressions in Kurdish

Euphemistic Expressions in Kurdish

By: Karwan Omer Siddiq

1. Introduction:

This study is designed to analyze a collection of Kurdish euphemistic expressions for death using the framework of Conceptual Metaphor Theory propounded by George Lakoff. Nevertheless, this is not the only purpose of the study as it examines the corpus items to find out the exact linguistic devices they reveal, and finally discovers the sources of the devices as well.

The study is divided into an introduction, theoretical background which covers the definition and classification of euphemism and taboo in addition to introducing Conceptual Metaphor Theory, the conceptualization of death in Kurdish, and finally the seven conceptual mappings over which the corpus examples are distributed which include: death as a loss, death as joyful life, death as a rest, death as a reward, death as the end, death as a journey and death as surrender.

2. Taboo and Euphemism: Definition and Classification

Mankind’s failure to come to grips with death has been pervasive in different times and societies. In fact, human beings have traditionally felt reluctant to deal with the subject of death using straightforward terms. Whether owing to superstition, fear, or social respect, the fact remains that when facing death language users try to soften the effect of what they really wish to communicate. To this end, they resort to euphemism, i.e. the semantic formal process thanks to which the taboo is stripped of its most explicit, offensive or obscene overtones. From this viewpoint, euphemism is not merely a response to a forbidden subject; rather it provides a way to speak about the taboo, that is, about the unspeakable, about those concepts banned from public domain and removed from our consciousness. This refusal to speak freely of human mortality is symptomatic of the overall discomfort with the subject of death as a whole (Fernandez, 2006: 101-2).

The word euphemism comes from the Greek word euphemos. Its first use is said to have been in religion because people were afraid of using those words that were considered taboo. Since people did not want to behave in a way that would upset the gods, they used words which they thought would give them good fortune instead. Euphemisms have been traced back to the Indo-European languages and it seems possible that more taboo words existed then than what is the case today. Whichever the case might be, modern languages in general (like Kurdish, English, etc.) contain countless euphemisms dealing with the theme of death. It is claimed that people started using euphemisms because they believed that they would end up in trouble of some sort if they spoke about or used the word death. A theory, which apparently is quite widespread, claims that this belief is what has made death taboo in the majority of the English speaking cultures around the world. ( Whether it is true or not that people today are afraid of death and taboos, it is not something that they would admit to openly. Even though such fear is associated with uneducated inhabitants of exotic places, some people carry good luck charms, cross their fingers or knock on wood as a way of protecting themselves (Allan & Burridge 2006:203).

Euphemisms are often applied when we want to hide something that might be considered as upsetting or distasteful; we do this even if the literal meaning is not really that disturbing. This kind of euphemism is often called doublespeak and is frequently used in politics. According to Gladney and Rittenberg (2005:2) the term doublespeak was invented by William Lutz who was allegedly inspired by George Orwell’s novel 1984, where he mentions ‘doublethink’ and ‘newspeak’.

One might think that the euphemistic way to talk about death is somewhat peculiar and wonder why it is so taboo to use the ‘normal’ words. Dyer (2006) explains this by claming that if we use other words than death, the healing process after losing a loved one many times becomes more bearable. This claim might sound strange at first, but it is not hard to imagine that it might be a bit easier to handle a loss by thinking that the person has ‘found everlasting peace’. By using euphemisms like this people are able to cope better and even distance themselves from what has happened. Kearl (2006) on the other hand, states that some scholars agree that people are denying death, and the fact that death is inevitable, by using euphemisms. But he also mentions that we have been using these terms for a very long time and sometimes we cannot avoid using euphemisms when we want to explain certain aspects of being human. The fact that death is a taboo based on fear is mentioned by Allan and Burridge (1991:153, 2006:222). People are afraid of losing loved ones and of what happens to our bodies when we die, but there is also a fear dealing with what follows after we are dead. No one or at least very few people have experienced death first hand and therefore the ‘afterlife’ is a huge mystery which makes some of us very scared. (From Allan & Burridge 1991:153, 2006:222)

The issue whether euphemisms are ‘good or bad’ seems to have been debated back and forth over the years. Back in the 1980s, Gross (1985:203) mentioned that many writers perceived it as if people found it very difficult to ‘look death straight in the face; even more difficult than previous generations. Gross also claims that death had surpassed sex as the most forbidden topic. Allan and Burridge (2006:223) draw a parallel between today’s taboo on death and the way sex was inhibited during the Victorian period. The repression of sex was followed by a very successful pornographic business and the taboo concerning death today is present at the same time as we are overflowed by books and movies depicting murder and cruel death. They state that the difference is the fact that the pornography during the Victorian times was not as open as the topic of death is in the present day.

Gladney and Rittenberg (2005:1) claim that there is another thing that many scholars agree on, and it is the fact that when euphemisms are used in a courteous way, without harming others, it is perfectly alright. On the other hand, when people in power use euphemisms it can change how people look upon many big problems in society and cause them to stop caring. They mention how a government can use euphemisms as a way of making the public less sensitive and not reflect too much over the horrors and pain connected to for example war. This is not the best approach since in fact, it has been discovered that people who speak about accidental brutality in an uncaring way are about to accept it (Gladney & Rittenberg 2005:1).

2.1 Classification of Euphemisms:
According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, many euphemisms fall into one or more of these categories:
1. Terms of foreign and/or technical origin (derrière, copulation, perspire, urinate, security breach)
2. Abbreviations (GD for goddamn, SOB for son of a bitch, BS for bullshit, TS for tough shit, SOL for shit out of luck or PDQ for pretty damn(ed) quick, BFD for big fucking deal, "MF for "motherfucker", POS for piece of shit, STFU or STHU for shut the fuck/hell up, RTFM for read the fucking manual /restart the fucking machine)
o Abbreviations using a spelling alphabet, especially in military contexts (Charlie Foxtrot for "Cluster fuck", Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Oscar for "What the fuck, over?", Bravo Sierra for "bullshit")
o Plays on abbreviations (H-e-double hockey sticks for "hell", "a-double snakes" or "a-double-dollar-signs" for "ass", Sugar Honey Iced Tea for "shit", bee with an itch or witch with a capital B for "bitch", catch (or see) you next Tuesday (or Thursday) for "cunt")
o Use in mostly clinical settings (PITA for "pain in the ass" patient)
o Abbreviations for phrases that are not otherwise common (PEBKAC for "Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair", ID Ten T Error or ID-10T Error for "Idiot", TOBAS for "Take Out Back And Shoot")
3. Abstractions and ambiguities (it for excrement, the situation for pregnancy, going to the other side for death, do it or come together in reference a sexual act, tired and emotional for drunkenness.)
4. Indirections (behind, unmentionables, privates, live together, go to the bathroom, sleep together, sub-navel activities)
5. Mispronunciation (goldarnit, dadgummit, efing c (fucking cunt), freakin, be-atch,shoot)
6. Litotes or reserved understatement (not exactly thin for "fat", not completely truthful for "lied", not unlike cheating for "an instance of cheating")
7. Changing nouns to modifiers (makes her look slutty for "is a slut", right-wing element for "Right Wing")
8. Slang, e.g. pot for marijuana, laid for sex and so on.
Notably, there is some disagreement over whether certain terms are or are not euphemisms. For example, sometimes the phrase visually impaired is labeled as a politically correct euphemism for blind. However, visual impairment can be a broader term, including, for example, people who have partial sight in one eye, or even those with uncorrected poor vision, a group that would be excluded by the word blind.
2.2 The Categorization of Taboos:
Euphemisms are motivated by different taboos in society. Every culture has its own topics that are forbidden and should not be talked about directly. Stephen Ullman (1962:205) states that taboos are divided into three categories "according to the psychological motivation behind them". The first of these categories is fear, which has motivated different taboos on speaking the names of certain supernatural beings. These include God, the Devil and names of certain animals. Ullman (ibid: 206) mentions the weasel as an example. For example in French the weasel is referred to as 'a beautiful little woman' , in Italian and Portuguese as 'a little lady' and in Swedish as 'a pretty little girl' or 'a young lady'. Other examples include bear, tiger and lion, since dangerous animals are often referred to by using euphemistic references. This has been the case in Finland as well with the bear. People have believed that the bear was originally human or half-human. People have also thought that the bear is much more intelligent than humans are and possesses supernatural powers. All these factors have contributed to the fact that Finnish language has a large variety of euphemisms for the bear.
The motivation behind the taboo of God might have something to do with respect as well, as Francis Katamba (1994:86) suggests. He states that God could not be referred to by name, which has resulted in expressions such as the Lord, the King of Kings and the All-Mighty. The clearest taboo motivated by fear must be that of the Devil. The euphemistic expressions associated with the Devil are somewhat humoristic and friendly, perhaps to make the Devil seem less frightening and unfamiliar, as for example in: "What in the Sam Hill are you doing?” Hughes (2000:44) lists some British English examples such as Old Nick and Lord of the Flies.
People also try to avoid direct reference to topics they find unpleasant. Under the category of delicacy fall such topics as death, disease, physical and mental defects and criminal actions. Probably the most natural euphemism related to death would be "to pass away", which seems to be appropriate and politically correct in a large number of situations. According to Geoffrey Hughes in A History of English Words death is often referred to as a "metaphorical journey in comforting variants and traditional forms such as…passing on, going to one's Maker [and] joining the majority" (2000:45). Other less-dignified ways of referring to death include to resign one's being, moving into upper management and [being] no longer eligible for the census (Death).
The third category in Ullman's discussion on taboos has to do with propriety. The three most common areas in this category are sex, certain body parts and functions and swearing. People find it difficult to talk about going to the toilet, and have invented numerous ways of avoiding direct reference to the topic. Among good friends and acquaintances it may be acceptable to directly ask the location of the toilet or mention the bodily function(s) for which one needs to use it, but in other situations people might ask: "Where could I wash my hands?" In movies and in television, for example, women often say in a restaurant that they need to go and powder their noses or that they need to freshen up when they need to use the toilet. There are, also a number of different ways to refer to having sex, including to sleep with, go to bed with and make love, as mentioned by Hughes (ibid:45) in the discussion of metaphorical means of avoiding direct reference. When talking about swearing people often use "minced oaths". These are expressions based on profanities, but the profanities have been changed to remove the inappropriate characteristics of the original utterance. Among the most common expressions are freaking for fucking, gosh for God, heck for hell and darn for damn (Phrase).

3. The Cognitive Approach: Conceptual Metaphor Theory:
In cognitive linguistics, conceptual metaphor, or cognitive metaphor, refers to the understanding of one idea, or conceptual domain, in terms of another, for example, understanding quantity in terms of directionality (e.g. "prices are rising"). A conceptual domain can be any coherent organization of human experience. The regularity with which different languages employ the same metaphors, which often appear to be perceptually based, has led to the hypothesis that the mapping between conceptual domains corresponds to neural mappings in the brain. This idea, and a detailed examination of the underlying processes, was first extensively explored by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in their work Metaphors We Live By. Other cognitive scientists study subjects similar to conceptual metaphor under the labels "analogy" and "conceptual blending. According to Lakoff and Johnson, There are two main roles for the conceptual domains posited in conceptual metaphors:
• Source domain: the conceptual domain from which we draw metaphorical expressions (e.g., love is a journey).
• Target domain: the conceptual domain that we try to understand (e.g., love is a journey).
A mapping is the systematic set of correspondences that exist between constituent elements of the source and the target domain. Many elements of target concepts come from source domains and are not preexisting. To know a conceptual metaphor is to know the set of mappings that applies to a given source-target pairing. The same idea of mapping between source and target is used to describe analogical reasoning and inferences.
A primary tenet of this theory is that metaphors are matter of thought and not merely of language: hence, the term conceptual metaphor. The metaphor may seem to consist of words or other linguistic expressions that come from the terminology of the more concrete conceptual domain, but conceptual metaphors underlie a system of related metaphorical expressions that appear on the linguistic surface. Similarly, the mappings of a conceptual metaphor are themselves motivated by image schemas which are pre-linguistic schemas concerning space, time, moving, controlling, and other core elements of embodied human experience.
Conceptual metaphors typically employ a more abstract concept as target and a more concrete or physical concept as their source. For instance, metaphors such as 'the days [the more abstract or target concept] ahead' or 'giving my time' rely on more concrete concepts, thus expressing time as a path into physical space, or as a substance that can be handled and offered as a gift. Different conceptual metaphors tend to be invoked when the speaker is trying to make a case for a certain point of view or course of action. For instance, one might associate "the days ahead" with leadership, whereas the phrase "giving my time" carries stronger connotations of bargaining. Selection of such metaphors tends to be directed by a subconscious or implicit habit in the mind of the person employing them.
The principle of unidirectionality states that the metaphorical process typically goes from the more concrete to the more abstract, and not the other way around. Accordingly, abstract concepts are understood in terms of prototype concrete processes. The term "concrete," in this theory, has been further specified by Lakoff and Johnson as more closely related to the developmental, physical neural and interactive body. Finally, to clarify the matter, some examples from Lakoff may serve the purpose:
1. Love Is A Journey
Source domain: love
Target domain: journey
a. Progress in the relationship is forward motion
1. They are at a crossroads in their relationship.
2. This relationship isn't going anywhere.
3 They're in a dead-end relationship.
b. The relationship is a moving object
• Relationships, like sharks, have to keep moving to stay alive.
• This marriage is on the rocks.
• This relationship has been spinning its wheels for years.
• Their marriage has really gone off the track.
2. Anger Is Heat
Source Domain
Target Domain
• She's a real hothead.
Anger is heat and body is container for emotions
• You make my blood boil.
• Let her stew.
• She got all steamed up.
• He's just blowing off steam.
• He erupted.
• He boiled over.
• She felt her gorge rising.
• He blew his top.
• He exploded.
• I can't keep my anger bottled up anymore
• His temper flared up.
• His eyes smouldered with rage.
• He has a fiery temper.
4. Euphemism and the Conceptualization of Death:

A corpus of fifty three samples of Kurdish euphemistic expressions for death has been drawn from mainly from A Dictionary of Idioms in Kurdish by Abdulwahab Shekhani (2009:341-5). The expressions obtained from this dictionary can be distributed over a set of linguistic devices or mechanisms employed to substitute the taboos of death and dying in Kurdish. The introductory step of our investigation is to check the corpus items against the linguistic devices in question to reveal the device that is most commonly used in Kurdish to conceptualize death and dying, as shown below:

a. The linguistic devices include those that are semantic in nature, such as:
1. Metaphor
2. Metonymy
3. Hyperbole
4. Circumlocution
5. Generic Terms

Others are lexical in nature, such as:
1. Learned words
2. Borrowings

b. The corpus examples (being translated into English) are distributed over the said devices or mechanisms as follows:

Metaphor Amri khwai krd 1- ????? ???? ???
Metaphor Amri khwai bajê hêna 2- ????? ???? ??????????
Metaphor ?wa bar rahmati khwa 3- ???? ??? ???????? ???
Metaphor ?uya bar dlovanya khudê 4- ????? ??? ???????? ?????
Metaphor 5- ????????? ???? ????
Metaphor + hyperbole 6- ????????? ????? ???
Metaphor 7- ???? ?? ??? ????????
Metaphor 8- ??????? ?????? ??????????
Metaphor + hyperbole 9- ????????? ??????? ???
Metaphor 10- ???? ??????
Metaphor + circumlocution -11 ????? ???? ??? ????????? ???? ?????????
Metonymy 12- ????? ???? ????? ??????? ????? ????????
Metonymy 13- ????? ???? ?????????? ?????
Metonymy 14- ????? ???? ?? ?????? ???????
Metaphor 15- ????? ???? ?? ????? ???? ?????
Metaphor 16- ??????? ????? ????????
Metonymy 17- ????? ????? ????????
Metaphor 18- ???? ??? ???
Metaphor 19- ?????? ????? ??????
Metaphor 20- ????? ????? ????
Metaphor + circumlocution 21- ??????? ?????? ??????????? ??????? ????? ????
Metaphor 22- ????? ??? ?????? ??????????
Metaphor 23- ??????? ????? ??????? ??????? ???? ??????
Metaphor 24- ???? ??????? ?????? ?????? ?????????? ??????
Metaphor 25- ???????? ??? ???? ???
Metaphor + circumlocution 26- ??????? ??????????? ???? ???????? ???????
Metaphor ?????? ????? ???? 27-
Metaphor 28- ???? ???? ??????
Metaphor 29- ??????? ?? ??????? ???
Metaphor 30- ????? ?????? ??
Metaphor 31- ???? ??????? ??????
Metaphor 32- ??????? ???? ??????
Metonymy 33- ???? ????? ????? ???? ????????
Metaphor 34- ???????? ???????? ???
Metaphor 35- ????? ???? ???
Metaphor 36- ???????? ???? ???????? ??? ???
Metaphor 37- ???? ????? ????
Metaphor 38- ???? ?????? ???????
Metaphor 39- ?????????? ?????? ???
Generic Term 40- ?????? ?????? ???
Generic Term 41- ????? ???
Metaphor 42- ??????? ????? ??????????
Metonymy + circumlocution 43- ???????? ???? ????? ????? ??????????
Metonymy 44- ??????? ????? ???? ????
Metaphor 45- ??? ??????? ???????? ????
Metaphor 46- ?????? ????? ???? ????
Metaphor 47- ??????????? ????????
Metaphor 48- ????? ????? ????????? ????????
Metaphor 49- ?????? ???????????? ????????? ???? ?????? ???
Metaphor 50- ????? ???? ??? ? ?????? ??????
Borrowing 51-?????? ???
Metaphor 52- ???? ????? ???
Learned word 53- ????? ????????

As is clear from the aforementioned examples, metaphors form the majority of the linguistic devices used to mitigate the taboo of death. Statistically, they include 75.47% of the whole corpus. Also within the semantic resources, metonymies constitute 13.20% of the collected corpus, while the remaining resources form negligible proportions.

5. The Conceptual Mappings of Metaphorical Expressions for Death in Kurdish:

Within the framework of cognitive linguistics the metaphors observed in the corpus can be analyzed in terms of the cognitive mappings to which they may be assigned. This provides significant information concerning the way in which the taboo of death is actually used, perceived, and mitigated (Fernandez, 2006:113). Allan and Burridge (1991) Bultnick (1998) and Fernandez (2006) have found and explicated a number of conceptual mappings for the consolatory metaphors of death. Here we adopt seven of theses mappings which best serve us to analyze our corpus examples, namely:
It is to be noted that the greater number of metaphors view death as a positive event, as a sort of reward in Heaven (Paradise) after a virtuous life on earth. Thus, four out of seven conceptual metaphors referred to conceptualize the domain of death in terms of a domain with positive connotations, namely as a journey, joyful life, surrender, rest, and reward. There are only two sets of correspondences in which death is portrayed negatively: a loss and the end. Thus most of the conceptualizations in the corpus imply a positive value-judgment of death.

Here, it is important to note how the positive or negative value-judgment in the death – related mappings depends, as Bultnick (1998:84) explains, on the nature of the source domain. Below are the percentages of metaphorical euphemistic substitutes in each cognitive domain:

1- Death is a loss 30.18%
2- Death is a journey 2.5%
3- Death is a joyful life 4%
4- Death is a rest 15%
5- Death is a reward 10%
6- Death is the end 10%
7- Death is surrender 7.5%

Here, the conceptual metaphor Death is a loss has the highest range of substitutions (16) , followed by Death is a journey (13), death is a rest (8) Death is a reward(5), Death is the end (5) , Death is surrender (4), and Death is a joyful life (2), which is the least frequent in the corpus. In what follows, we will explain how the above seven source domains are actually applied to give a euphemistic representation of the taboo concepts of death and dying. To serve this purpose, we will deal with those conceptualizations that refer to the larger number of metaphorical substitutes in the corpus examples.

1- Death is a Loss:

The domain of death is explained in terms of the domain of loss in over 30% of the corpus date. According to Fernandez (2006:117), this cognitive association has a metonymic basis (the effect of death stands for death) Following Bultnick (1998:44-45), the conceptual basis of this mapping lies in the fact that life is perceived as a valuable object and death is thus seen as the loss of this possession. Therefore, contrary to what happens in the majority of the conceptual mappings observed in the corpus data, the metaphorical alternatives or substitutes arising from this configurative association cannot be said to provide any sort of consolation or relief. In fact, as Allan and Burridge (1991:162) maintain, the conceptual metaphor of death as a loss evokes as “malign fate”, as an event that human beings cannot control, leaving them powerless in the face of the unavoidable event. Out of the 53 corpus examples, 16 occurrences fall under the cognitive mapping of loss. In the following examples the death as a loss conceptual mapping is the source of the euphemistic substitution:
1 – ???? ??????? ??????
2 – ???? ?? ??? ????????
3 – ???? ????? ????? ???? ????????
4 – ????? ????? ????????
5 – ???? ??????
6 – ????? ???? ???
7 – ????? ???
8 – ????? ????? ????? ????

In the first two examples, the focus is obviously on death with the first capable of being interpreted in two ways: the victim is utterly despaired

Conceptual Metaphor Source domain Target

????? ????? ???????? loss Death

and by meeting his fate, he gets rid of this state, or the euphemistic substitute is used by a third party speaker in a pejorative dysphemistic manner . Examples (3) and (8) focus on the value of life and represent a sorrowful expression of the act of dying. Examples (3) through to (7) all emphasize the result of death by avoiding to directly mention the act of dying.

2- Death as a journey :

The conceptual metaphor which explains death in terms of a journey with a spiritual destination comes second in the corpus in quantitative terms being the source of almost 25% (13 occurrences) of the entire corpus. As Bultnick (1998:31) points out, it is because of this conceptualization (based on the assumption that the dead person is no longer around) that human mortality is conceptualized as a departure from this world in which a basic domain of experience like death is understood in terms of a different and more concrete domain, as a journey, an association which provides the basis for the verbal mitigation of the taboo. The metaphorical mapping transfers different attributes from the source domain of a journey to the target domain of death.

Conceptual Metaphor Source domain Target domain
????? ??? ?????? ?????????? Journey Death

More specifically, it presents different sets of conceptual correspondences as a result of using the knowledge we have about journeys to talk about the taboo of death (Fernandez, 2006: 115): First, the act of dying corresponds to the act of leaving: second, the destination of the journey is an encounter with God in Heaven. Third, the dying person is the one that embarks on the journey. In the examples that follow, the act of dying corresponds to the act of leaving, and consequently the deceased (or metonymically his soul) is obviously the person who embarks on the journey:
9 – ?????? ????? ??????????
10 – ????? ???? ???????????? ???? ??????????
11 – ????? ???? ????? ??????? ????? ???????
12 – ????? ???? ?? ?????? ???????
13 – ????? ????????? ??????????
14 – ??????? ?? ??????? ???.........???
Here, we clearly observe that all the variants of the metaphorical use of the verb (???????????), which include such verbs as (??????????), (????????), (????????), (????) focus on the act of leaving, on the journey itself, rather than on its conclusion. The final destination of the journey, i.e., the encounter with God in Heaven, is based on the religious belief of a joyful meeting with Almighty God. This notion provides the euphemistic support of expressions such as examples (11) and (12). Notably, examples (9) and (13) stand in contrast to each other: the former, though clearly focuses on the act of leaving as mentioned earlier, is representative of an apparently secular concept of viewing the current world as light , illuminated , and joyful. Consequently, the transferal from life to death can be interpreted as a journey into the unknown. The latter example (13) finds the world as a chaotic scene presenting the human being with nothing but sorrow and grief, and thus death is seen as the final cure to get rid of the scene. This latter conceptualization has its origin in a religious belief.

Additionally, example (14) again presents a metaphor that corresponds to the person who is capable of embarking on a journey. Thus, the dying person is supposed to have moved, and for this reason considered to be alive (Fernandez, 2006:116). The importance of the concept of movement in this cognitive mapping is beyond doubt. In fact, according to Bultnick (1998:34-38), the conceptual metaphor Death as a Journey is a subdivision of the more general conceptualization Death as Movement.
In general, the journey from life to the next world can be achieved in two ways. First, the journey is seen as the result of an action performed by some external agent, someone who helps to bring about departure (leaving). Like provider or Almighty God, or the Angel of death (Israel). The second is when the journey is motivated by an unknown force, as in:
15- ??????? ??? ???? ???
16- ???? ????? ???

3. Death is a Rest :

The domain of death is explained in terms of the domain of rest in 15% of the corpus data. The conceptual metaphors listed under this domain conceptualize death in terms of a peaceful rest after an earthly existence. Thus all the metaphors show a positive judgment of death, as in:
17- ?????? ????? ????
18- ???? ??????
19- ?????? ????? (?????) ??????
20- ??????????? ????????
21- ?????? ????? ??????? ????????? ???? ?????? ???
According to Fernandez (2006: 121) the underlying notion of all the metaphors included this mapping is based on the fact that a rest, repose, or a sleep are temporary, and therefore, death is also conceptualized as a temporary event. This analogy implies that the cessation on of bodily functions and speech are not automatically identified with the symptoms of physical death, as they are also present in a peaceful sleep. The conceptualization which relates death to a rest or a sleep provides an effective euphemistic reference to the taboo mainly because this association ultimately leads to the denial of death as such: the dying person is no longer dead, but sunk in a comforting sleep.

Conceptual metaphor Source domain Target domain

??????????? ???????? Rest Death

4. Death is a Reward:

The domain of death is explained terms of the domain of reward in 9% of the corpus examples. Thus reward is granted by Almighty God to those virtuous human beings who have led exemplary lives. Here death is conceptualized as an event which far from being fearful or harmful involves a sort of liberation thanks to which the deceased will find some hope and consolation (Fernandez, 2006: 122).

In the following three examples, the death is figuratively associated with a reward achieved by moral discipline after a life full of good deeds. Hence the cognitive metaphors show an anticipation of Almighty God‘s mercy and blessings upon the victim:
22- ???? ??? ???????? ????
23- ??? ?????? ???? ????
24- ????? ??? ???????? ?????

The following examples envisage life as wretched and those living on Earth as miserable creatures. So, God Almighty’s reward for the virtuous and the pious is to help them get rid of this sorrowful earthly life:
25- ???? ??????? ?????? ?????? ? ????????? ??????

Conceptual metaphor Source domain Target domain
????????? ???? ???? Reward Death

6. Death is the End:

The domain of death is explained in terms of the domain of the end in 9% of the corpus examples. Following Lakoff (1987:275) and by virtue of the SOURCE – PATH – GOAL schema into which our everyday experience may be organized, life can be understood as a process with a starting point, an end point and a time span:

“Complex events in general are also understood in terms of a source – path – goal schema; complex events have initial states (source), a sequence of intermediate stages (path) and a final state (destination)”.

Hence, death is conceptualized as the final stage of our lifespan by means of the image mapping Death is the End, which provides the basis for understanding and mitigating death and dying (Fernandez, 2006:123). In the examples below, death is viewed as the end of the process of human life:

Conceptual metaphor Source domain Target domain
??????? ????? ???????? End Death

26- ??????? ????? ????????
27- ??????? ????? ??????????
28- ??????? ????? ???? ????
Furthermore, expressions containing the adjective (???/ ?????) such as (??? ??????? ?????????), (???? ????? ???), (?? ?????? ???? ??????) can also belong to this cognitive network in the sense that they help to understand human death in terms of finality.

6- Death is Surrender:

The domain of death can be explained in terms of the cognitive domain of Surrender in 7.5% of all the corpus data. Certainly, the notion of surrender in the conceptual metaphors below is basically a reflection of the Islamic view to the taboo of death: this is due to the fact that the Kurdish people are predominately Muslims. The term ISLAM itself is derived from the Arabic root ‘aslama’ which means “to surrender, resign oneself”. In Islam, the fundamental duty of each Muslim is to submit to Allah and whatever Allah wants of them. Thus, this conceptual mapping views death as surrender to Allah’s (God’s) orders and purpose:
29- ????? ???? ???
30- ????? ???? ??????????
31- ?????? ???

Conceptual Metaphor Source domain Target domain
????? ???? ??? Surrender Death

7 – Death is a Joyful life:

The domain of death is explained in terms the cognitive domain of joyful life in only 3.7% of all the examples collected which marks the least frequent domain in the corpus overall. This cognitive domain is based on the religious belief in an afterlife in which the deceased will joyfully expect the resurrection in Heaven flanked by God and the celestial angels (Frnandez, 2006:119).
This cognitive mapping transfers the attributes from the domain of a joyful life to the domain of death, as in:
32- ??????? ?????? ???????? ??????? ????? ????
33- ??????? ??????????? ???? ???????? ???????

When considered closely, these two examples can best be viewed in the light of the metaphor Death is eternal life proposed by Marin Arise (1996: 44) since they exhibit a presupposition that God’s Heaven is where the deceased has surely settled.
As Fernandez (2006:119) states, due the fact of joy, life is viewed in negative terms. This conceptualization is particularly reflected in the metaphor (?????? ???????).

Conceptual Metaphor Source Target domain

??????? ??????????? ???? ???????? ??????? Joyful life Death

6. Conclusions:

1. This paper contains a collected a corpus of euphemistic expressions of death in Kurdish whose examples have been drawn mainly from the Dictionary of Idioms in Kurdish by Abdulwahab Shekhany (2009:341-5).

2. The corpus items have been thoroughly examined against a set of linguistic devices such as metaphors, metonymies, generic terms, etc. As the result, we have concluded that metaphors are presumed to constitute the majority of the euphemistic expressions of death in Kurdish. This fact can be an indication that this particular device best suits the purpose of euphemism.

3. Having confirmed the metaphorical source of most of the euphemistic expressions, we have drawn seven conceptual mappings from Bultnick (1998), Fernandez (2006) and Allan & Burridge (1991) and have applied them to the Kurdish expressions within the well-known framework of Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT). When analyzed, the corpus data indicate that the category death as a loss constitutes the highest rate of examples in Kurdish (30.18%) whereas the category death is a joyful life contains the least examples (only 4%). This fact explicitly demonstrates the non-religious or secular outlook of the Kurdish individual towards death and dying.

7. Bibliography:

• Allan, Keith & Burridge, Kate. (2006). Forbidden words. Taboo and the Censoring of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
• Allan, K. and Burridge, K. (1991) Euphemism and Dysphemism: language used as shield and weapon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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• Gladney, George Albert & Rittenberg, Terri L. (2005). Euphemistic Text Affects Attitudes, Behaviour. Newspaper Research Journal. 26 (1) 28-42.
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• Hughes, Geoffrey. (2000). A History of English Words. Oxford: Blackwell.
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• Lakoff, George (1987). Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
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• Marin Arrese, Juana. (1996). To die, to sleep. A Contrastive Study of Metaphors of Death and Dying in English and Spanish. Language Sciences Vol.18, 1-2. PP 37-52
• Neaman, J. S., & Silver, C. G. (1983). Kind words: A thesaurus of euphemisms. New York: Facts on File, Inc.
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• Sekhany, Abdulwahab (2006). Farhangi Idyom la Zmani Kurdi (A Dictionary of Idioms in Kurdish. Mukiryani Establishment for Research and Publication. Erbil.
• Ullman, Stephen. (1962). Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell.

?????? ??????????

He carried out God’s order 1- ????? ???? ???
He carried out God’s order 2- ????? ???? ??????????
He was thrown at God’s mercy 3- ???? ??? ???????? ???
He was thrown at God’s mercy 4- ????? ??? ???????? ?????
He was thrown at God’s mercy 5- ????????? ???? ????
He fell sacrifice to you (the present) 6- ????????? ????? ???
God took him back 7- ???? ?? ??? ????????
He departed the bright world 8- ??????? ?????? ??????????
He fell a sacrifice to you (the present) 9- ????????? ??????? ???
He reposed (in the cemetery) 10- ???? ??????
He was sent off to the unending night of death -11 ????? ???? ??? ????????? ???? ?????????
His pure soul flew off to the vast Heaven 12- ????? ???? ????? ??????? ????? ????????
He sacrificed his pure soul to Kurdistan 13- ????? ???? ?????????? ?????
His pure soul was called to Heaven 14- ????? ???? ?? ?????? ???????
He entrusted his pure soul to God 15- ????? ???? ?? ????? ???? ?????
His glimpse of life died out 16- ??????? ????? ????????
The flower of his life faded out 17- ????? ????? ????????
He was led into ruin (his life was ruined) 18- ???? ??? ???
He released from earthly sufferings 19- ?????? ????? ??????
He drank the liquor of death 20- ????? ????? ????
He preferred the boundless Heaven to the cramped Earth 21- ??????? ?????? ??????????? ??????? ????? ????
He departed the grief – stricken world 22- ????? ??? ?????? ??????????
He put up his tent before the throne of God 23- ??????? ????? ??????? ??????? ???? ??????
God, the Savior rid him of his wretched fellow humans 24- ???? ??????? ?????? ?????? ?????????? ??????
He jumped into the other world 25- ???????? ??? ???? ???
He made God‘s Heaven his permanent nest 26- ??????? ??????????? ???? ???????? ???????
He slept under the earth ?????? ????? ???? 27-
He was hit by the arrow of death 28- ???? ???? ??????
He carried his stuff to the graveyard 29- ??????? ?? ??????? ???
He was relieved of life 30- ????? ?????? ??
God disposed of him 31- ???? ??????? ??????
He was released of life 32- ??????? ???? ??????
The torch of his life died out by death 33- ???? ????? ????? ???? ????????
He has settled in Heaven 34- ???????? ???????? ???
Death took him young 35- ????? ???? ???
He got mixed with soil at the flower of his life 36- ???????? ???? ???????? ??? ???
Death came to his rescue 37- ???? ????? ????
He became a guest to the graveyard 38- ???? ?????? ???????
He bid farewell to life 39- ?????????? ?????? ???
His life ended 40- ?????? ?????? ???
He perished 41- ????? ???
His life’s book was folded up 42- ??????? ????? ??????????
The death wind flew off his life tree’s leaves 43- ???????? ???? ????? ????? ??????????
His shadow disappeared on earth 44- ??????? ????? ???? ????
He fell victim to Israil’s looting 45- ??? ??????? ???????? ????
His sustenance on earth was cut off 46- ?????? ????? ???? ????
He rested in the grave 47- ??????????? ????????
He packed his baggage and headed for the grave 48- ????? ????? ????????? ????????
He settled in God’s Heaven with the virtuous 49- ?????? ???????????? ????????? ???? ?????? ???
He headed for the gardens of Heaven 50- ????? ???? ??? ? ?????? ??????
He discharged his obligation 51-?????? ???
He made his last voyage 52- ???? ????? ???
He lost his soul 53- ????? ????????

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