The Utilization of Circumlocution in Some Selected Religious Texts

Iman M. Al-Shemmary, Azhar Hussain Ubied


Circumlocution is a strategy used to describe or explain the meaning of the target expression, through description of  its characteristics such as shape, colour, size or function . In other words, using many words  to describe something for which a concise  expression exists (Smyth, 1920: 681).

Circumlocution is often used by aphasics and people learning a new language , where in the absence of a word (such as grandfather) the subject can simply be described the father of one's father). It is also used frequently in Basic English, a constructed dialect of non-regional English (ibid.).

Circumlocution is beating around the bush, circumambages, diffuseness, discursiveness, euphemism, gassiness, indirectness, periphrase, periphrasis, pleonasm, prolixity, roundabout, tautology, verbal evasion, verbiage, wordiness (Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, 2012 : 25).

A lengthened, roundabout mode of speech is allowable for the sake of variety or emphasis, or when a direct assertion might be offensive. But when none of these ends is accomplished, the mode of speeches becomes feeble and ineffective.

Broadly speaking , circumlocution receives less attention in studies. In addition, very little is known about the purposes of employing circumlocution in speech and writing.

Accordingly, this study tries to answer the following questions:

  1. What is circumlocution?
  2. What are the types of circumlocution ?
  3. What functions is circumlocution used to achieve ?
  4. What are the types used in religious texts?

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