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TITLE: Euphemisms AUTHOR: Meredith Ford, Lee Vining High, CA GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT: 7-9; English OVERVIEW: Students, especially young ones, often are unable to use the appropriate synonym, both in speaking and in writing. Neither are they able to recognize words as being synonyms if the words have different connotations. PURPOSE: This lesson will be one step in dealing with the huge problem of appropriate word choice in student writing and speaking. It will also help students recognize the value of appropriate word choice and see synonyms in language, especially in the language of advertising. OBJECTIVES: The student will be able to: 1. Recognize the word euphemism, pronounce it, and define it. 2. Give five examples of offensive words and a euphemism for each. ACTIVITIES AND PROCEDURES: 1. Ask students if they know any words which are considered harsh or "not nice" things to say about another person. Every hand will go up, of course. Avoiding grossly inappropriate choices, put some of these words on the board. 2. Ask the students to pretend the person's best friend was listening to the conversation. How could each word be changed to a nicer synonym. Examples: stupid - slow to catch on, fat - heavy, slob - relaxed about appearance, loud-mouth - speaks up for himself. 3. Write EUPHEMISM on the board with YOO-FA-MIZZUM directly under it. Students supply the definition and you write it. They then copy this information on notebook paper. They pronounce the word several times as a group. 4. Point out that many body parts, bodily functions, places, jobs, and so on which are considered "not nice." Put a list of ten or so on the board for the students to copy. Individually or in small groups, students then attempt to come up with three euphemisms for each word and write them on the same notebook paper. If appropriate, the words taboo, connotation, and offensive can be worked into this lesson. Students can use dictionaries or thesauruses for this assignment, but neither is necessary. TYING IT ALL TOGETHER: 1. Quiz: What is euphemism? How is the word pronounced? Give three euphemisms for fat. List five harsh words and a euphemism for each. 2. Have students write a short paper using euphemisms to describe a used car, a student with poor behavior to his mother, a funeral, or a set of clothes built for an overweight person.