Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Ugly Words

Critical Mass has a note on ugly words, "not words that mean hateful things, necessarily, but words whose sheer phonetic misshapenness repels us." He cites a few: phlegm, goober, segue, problematize. It started me thinking. I guess I have some favorite ugly words: ideology, quiz, swastika, artichoke, bureaucracy, midriff, hopefully, understand. Just don’t like the way they sound. If I think about it for a minute, it maybe true that there are few German words whose sound I like, but I do like the sound of all Italian words I have ever heard. I have no idea what all that means except to avoid the ugly. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I like avoid either. I once asked Vicki (my wife) what Hungarian sounded like to hear ears (she doesn’t speak it, but was in the midst of a group of Hungarian speakers) and she said it sounds like the barking of dogs. I didn’t translate, but then asked a Hungarian (who didn’t know a word of English) what English sounded like (having just heard the conversation I had with Vicki in English) and he said it sounded like the barking of dogs. I pushed it a bit, and asked what sounds they considered lovely. The Hungarians came up with words like "lehel" (to breathe) or "lelek" (soul).
In English we came up "willow", "home", and "lovely", "hush", (and a few more I can’t remember). This may be worth thinking about.

Discussions - 6 Comments

To each his own. To my ear Hungarian, with its vowel harmony (words contain either back vowels or front vowels but not both) is quite a lovely, poetic language.

Dave: Thanks you. Sure. I know what you mean, "Egy gondolat bant engemet, agyban, parnak kozt halni meg, el hervadni mint a virag kit titkos fere foga rag..." (Sorry, it’s from memory).

Don’t forget the ugliest word of them all... Conservative.

Awkward sounds and looks awkward.
Starbuck sounds - progressive?

I recall a study from quite a while ago where they pronounced a number of English words to people who spoke no English, and asked them which they thought were most beautiful.

By a landslide, the most beautiful sounding word was "diarrhea". Now _there’s_ food for thought.

I had got a dream to start my organization, but I didn't have got enough amount of cash to do this. Thank heaven my colleague told to use the business loans. Thus I took the term loan and made real my old dream.

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