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Like neurosis, polysemania afflicts us all to some degree; the occasional registering of an unintended pun might almost be taken as a proof, or at least a condition, of our semantic competence (just as various mild neuroses are the lot, and the proof, of our Western humanness, Freud suggested).
The fact is, it seldom generates fully paralyzing polysemania.
The history of linguistic taboo even reveals a mild kind of mass polysemania: the discontinuation of ādl, ` illness, 'in Old English (to be replaced by the euphemism disease) through a clash with adela, ` dirt,' was not the work of some individual polysemaniac; similarly, the 20th-century decline, noted by Bloomfield, in the use of cock in American English to refer to a male chicken points to a nationwide awareness of and embarrassment at the awkward dual meaning of the word.
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