Euphemisms and taboo words: a case of Kikuyu’s Kabete dialect
This works is a discussion of the relationship between informativity and interpretation of euphemism as well as taboo words and the social – cultural context in which they are used by speakers of Kikuyu as a first language. The theoretical framework used is politeness theory by Brown and Levinson (1987). The objectives of the study were to identify and describe the euphemisms and taboo words that are popularly used by speakers of Kikuyu, to establish the informativity and semantic attributes of euphemisms and taboo words in Kikuyu language and to analyze the pragmatic and social functions of euphemized taboo words which are used by speakers of Kikuyu. Data for the study was collected from twenty male informants and twenty female informants from Kabete area of Kiambu County. This was primary due to the fact that the research is a native speaker of the Gi-Kabete dialect spoken in the Kiambu County. The results of the research showed that in order to avoid embarrassment and face – loss, Kikuyu people try to look for substitutions that can hide or cover up the harmonious power of taboo words. Consequently, euphemisms are employed to replace offensive expressions that can cause harm and shame to the speaker of Kikuyu language.