Linguistic Taboos: A Sociopragmatic Analysis of Selected Menstrual Euphemisms Employed by Girls/Women in Public Conversations in Cameroon

Sociopragmatic analysis, menstrual euphemisms, linguistic taboos, Cameroon, menstrual discourse


  • Blasius Chiatoh Associate Professor of Linguistics, Chair, Department of Linguistics, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
  • Rodrick Lando
    PhD Candidate of Applied Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, University of Buea, Buea, Cameroon
April 25, 2021


This paper attempts a sociopragmatic analysis of selected menstrual euphemisms that girls/women in Cameroon employ when making reference to menstruation in public conversations. In the paper, we argue that, within national and international legal frameworks, the linguistic taboos imposed on public menstrual discourse by some cultures in the Cameroonian society constitute a serious threat to the freedom of expression as a fundamental human right. Data were collected through questionnaires administered to 127 female students at the University of Buea and Biaka University Institute of Buea. Data collected were analysed thematically, and the study was guided by Brown and Levinson’s (1987) Politeness Theory. Findings from our analysis of data collected reveal that the euphemistic expressions employed by girls/women in public conversations on menstruation evoke different themes that carry both positive and negative connotations. However, a large majority of the euphemistic expressions identified in this study carry positive connotations. This implies that girls/women who employ such usages in menstrual discourse have a positive perception of and attitude toward menstruation, unlike others who see it as a nuisance, as seen in menstrual euphemisms that carry negative connotations. In the light of these findings, we recommend that children (both males and females) be properly educated on menstruation in their pre-puberty years in order to help eliminate erroneous beliefs and myths about menstruation. Such education can contribute to eradicating unfair linguistic taboos imposed on public menstrual discourse.