7.21.2009

Word!

A post on The Guardian's book blog contemplates the most hated and most loved of English words. "Cellar door," for example, is regarded as one of the most perfect of English words, whereas "discombobulating" is not. "Cellar door" became popularly known as a beautiful word due to J.R.R. Tolkien's influence. He had this to say in a 1955 essay:

"Most English-speaking people...will admit that cellar door is 'beautiful', especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful. Well then, in Welsh for me cellar doors are extraordinarily frequent, and moving to the higher dimension, the words in which there is pleasure in the contemplation of the association of form and sense are abundant." (English and Welsh, 1955, J.R.R. Tolkien)
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Other examples of favorite and not so favorite English words:
Love: lilt, miasma, oligopoly
Hate: moist, veggie, pamphlet, pasty

Which words do you love/hate?

4 comments:

  1. I like "falafel" I used to think it was pronounced "FALL-uh-fell" but I also like the real pronunciation "fuh-LAH-full"

    Words I hate...hmmm..."Paradigm" used to scratch on my nerves, but I'm OK with it now.

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  2. Ugh. "Moist" is the worst, along with "persnickity" and "pamper." The best words are clearly "myriad," "dilettante" and "hoodrat."

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  3. I always liked "ethereal"

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  4. Simple words I love: soul,summer,lovely
    Simple words I hate:phlegm,network,career

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