Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-4070
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4097
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


While dysphemism has been extensively studied as a general phenomenon, there are not too many studies on how it is used in political discourse by top officials. This paper aims to examine the ways in which a sample of two high-level Iranian politicians offensively conceptualize their alleged enemies, namely the U.S., Israel, and the West, through conceptual metaphors and metonymies. A cognitive linguistic analysis of the speeches of Iran’s supreme leader and ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad indicate that the selection of the metaphorical dysphemistic source domain is primarily determined by religion, previous discourse (pre-existing conventional dysphemistic metaphors), aspects of the target domain, and anger or hatred toward the enemies. The analysis indicates that most of the pejorative connotations are attributed to Israel as the alleged number one enemy of Iran via Israel is an animal, Israel is a tumor, and Israel is a bastard. The other presumed enemies, that is, the U.S. and the West are characterized via the u.s. is a devil, and the u.s. and the west are criminals. Moreover, the two politicians, while resorting to taboo concepts, remain loyal to the established discursive norms of delegitimizing the actions and thoughts of the enemies of the Islamic Republic.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Allan, K. , & Burridge, K
    (1991) Euphemism and dysphemism. Language used as shield and weapon. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. (2006) Forbidden words: Taboo and the censoring of language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511617881
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511617881 [Google Scholar]
  3. Anderson, L. , & Trudgill, P.J
    (1990) Bad language. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bostrom, R.N. , Baseheart, J.R. , & Rossiter, C.M
    (1973) The effect of three types of profane language in persuasive messages. Journal of Communication, 23, 461–475. doi: 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.1973.tb00961.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.1973.tb00961.x [Google Scholar]
  5. Burridge, K
    (2004) Blooming English: Observations on the roots, cultivation and hybrids of the English language. New York: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Cameron, L
    (1999) Operationalizing ‘metaphor’ for applied linguistic research. In L. Cameron & G.D. Low (Eds.), Researching and applying metaphor (pp. 3–28). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9781139524704.004
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139524704.004 [Google Scholar]
  7. Cavazza, N. , & Guidetti, M
    (2014) Swearing in political discourse why vulgarity works. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 33(5), 537–547. doi: 10.1177/0261927X14533198
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X14533198 [Google Scholar]
  8. Chamizo Dominguez, P.J. , & Zawislawska, M
    (2006) Animal names used as insults and derogation in Polish and Spanish. Philologia Hispalensis, 20, 137–174.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Charteris-Black, J
    (2004) Corpus approaches to critical metaphor analysis. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9780230000612
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230000612 [Google Scholar]
  10. (2005) Politicians and rhetoric. The persuasive power of metaphor. Basingstoke & New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. (2007) The communication of leadership. London & New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Chilton, P
    (2004) Analyzing political discourse: Theory and practice. London & New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Crespo-Fernández, E
    (2008) Sex-related euphemism and dysphemism: An analysis in terms of conceptual metaphor theory. Journal of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies, 30(2), 95–110.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. (2013) Words as weapons for mass persuasion: Dysphemism in Churchill’s wartime speeches. Text & Talk, 33(3), 311–330.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Davis, H
    (1989) What makes bad language bad. Language & Communication, 9(1), 1–9. doi: 10.1016/0271‑5309(89)90002‑5
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0271-5309(89)90002-5 [Google Scholar]
  16. Gradecak-Erdeljic, T. , & Milic, G
    (2011) Metonymy at the crossroads: A case of euphemisms and dysphemisms. In R. Benczes , A. Barcelona , & F.J. Ruiz de Mendoza Ibanez (Eds.), Defining metonymy in cognitive linguistics: Towards a consensus view (pp. 147–166). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/hcp.28.08gra
    https://doi.org/10.1075/hcp.28.08gra [Google Scholar]
  17. Hamilton, M.A
    (1989) Reactions to obscene language. Communication Research Reports, 6, 67–69. doi: 10.1080/08824098909359835
    https://doi.org/10.1080/08824098909359835 [Google Scholar]
  18. Jay, T
    (1992) Cursing in America. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/z.57
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.57 [Google Scholar]
  19. (2000) Why we curse: A neuro-psycho-social theory of speech. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/z.91
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.91 [Google Scholar]
  20. (2009) The utility and ubiquity of taboo words. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 153–161. doi: 10.1111/j.1745‑6924.2009.01115.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-6924.2009.01115.x [Google Scholar]
  21. Jay, T. , & Janschewitz, K
    (2008) The pragmatics of swearing. Journal of Politeness Research, 4, 267–288. doi: 10.1515/JPLR.2008.013
    https://doi.org/10.1515/JPLR.2008.013 [Google Scholar]
  22. Kövecses, Z
    (2002) Metaphor: A practical introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. (2006) Language, mind and culture. London: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Lakoff, G
    (1992) Metaphors and war: The metaphor system used to justify war in the Gulf. In M. Putz (Ed.), Thirty years of linguistic evolution (pp. 463–481). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi: 10.1075/z.61.36lak
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.61.36lak [Google Scholar]
  25. Lakoff, G. , & Johnson, M
    (1980) Metaphors we live by. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Lakoff, G. , & Turner, M
    (1989) More than cool reason: A field guide to poetic metaphor. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. doi: 10.7208/chicago/9780226470986.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226470986.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  27. Musolff, A
    (2010) Metaphor, nation, and the Holocaust. The concept of the body politic. New York & London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Pinker, S
    (2008) Freedom’s curse. The Atlantic Monthly, 302, 28–29.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Pragglejaz Group
    (2007) MIP: A method for identifying metaphorically used words in discourse. Metaphor and Symbol, 22(1), 1–39. doi: 10.1080/10926480709336752
    https://doi.org/10.1080/10926480709336752 [Google Scholar]
  30. Sagarin, E
    (1962) The anatomy of dirty words. New York: Lyle Stuart.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Scherer, C.R. , & Sagarin, B.J
    (2006) Indecent influence: The positive effects of obscenity on persuasion. Social Influence, 1, 138–146. doi: 10.1080/15534510600747597
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15534510600747597 [Google Scholar]
  32. Semino, E. , & Masci, M
    (1996) Politics is football: Metaphor in the discourse of Silvio Berlusconi in Italy. Society and Discourse, 7(2), 243–269. doi: 10.1177/0957926596007002005
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926596007002005 [Google Scholar]
  33. Wainryb, R
    (2005) Expletive deleted: A good look at bad language. New York: Free Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Warnaar, M
    (2013) Iranian foreign policy during Ahmadinejad: Ideology and actions. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9781137337917
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137337917 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): context; dysphemism; enemy; Iranian politicians; metaphor; metonymy
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error