Passa ai contenuti principali

Which words make you merry?

So we know you hate 'moist' and 'stakeholder' and 'nice', but which words do you love?

Words with soft sounds such as "l", "m" and "n", and long vowels or diphthongs, reinforced by a gentle polysyllabic rhythm, are interpreted as "nicer'" than words with hard sounds such as "g" and "k", short vowels and an abrupt rhythm.

There are always two reasons why people love or hate a word. One is the meaning, the other is the sound, and it's difficult to disentangle the two. Concentrating on the sound can best be done when meaning is taken out of the equation, by comparing synonyms.

Some inveighed against clichés ("solutions'"), Americanisms ("math"), Latinate words ("defenestrate"), colloquialisms ("like", when used for, like, quoting), political correctness ("chairperson"), nouns as verbs ("critique"), irregular spellings ("inveigle") and much more. Only a minority actually focused on the phonetics, and when they did, Gratak-sounds ruled.The vast majority of the hated words were short - one or two syllables - with short vowels and hard or hissing sounds: "crotch", "sac", "fiscal", "gusset", "nappy", "gutted", "rectum", "gash", "pustule". Slightly longer hates were "obligate", "spatula", "privilege"' and "masticate". The most interesting suggestions were those where the meaning of the word was pleasant, or at least neutral, but the sound still got on someone's nerves: "kudos", "bap", "boobs", "feisty", "veggie", "kooky", "pasty", "pamphlet", "spouse'" and - ironically - "poet".The forum started off with someone hating "moist". That's an interesting one, because it begins with soft sounds and a diphthong and ends with hissing and hard sounds. I'd expect opinions to be evenly divided there - and indeed, it wasn't long before "moist" had its defenders. "Flange" was another that brought divided opinions.Did anyone restore the balance, sending in words they liked the sound of? Yes, a few: "miasma", "lilt", "eland", "bland", and the mouth-watering "oligopoly".

published on: Guardian


Post popolari in questo blog

Little platoons

There's no reference to Hegel in the Tory manifesto, but there is an allusion to one of the founding fathers of conservative thought, Edmund Burke. The "institutional building blocks of the Big Society", the document reads, "[are] the 'little platoons' of civil society". “Little platoons" is a phrase that occurs in Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790), the classic expression of conservative scepticism about large-scale attempts to transform society in the image of abstract ideals. The Tories today use it to refer to the local associations that would go to form a "broad culture of responsibility, mutuality and obligation". The problem is that, for Burke, little platoons weren't groups that you volunteer to join; they were the "social subdivisions" into which you are born - the kind of traditionalism you would have thought Cameron's rebranded "progressive" Conservatives would want to avoid. T

Microsoft Language Portal

Microsoft Language Portal:  a bi-lingual search portal for finding translations of key Microsoft terms and general IT terminology. It is aimed at international users and partners that need to know our terminology for globalization, localization, authoring and general discovery.  It contains approx. 25,000 defined terms, including English definitions, translated in up to 100 languages as well as the software translations for products like Windows, Office, SQL Server and many more.

Football or soccer, which came first?

With the World Cup underway in Brazil, a lot of people are questioning if we should refer to the "global round-ball game" as "soccer" or "football"? This is visible from the queries of the readers that access my blog. The most visited post ever is indeed “ Differenza tra football e soccer ” and since we are in the World Cup craze I think this topic is worth a post. According to a paper published in May by the University of Michigan and written by the sport economist Stefan Szymanski, "soccer" is a not a semantically bizarre American invention but a British import. Soccer comes from "association football" and the term was used in the UK to distinguish it from rugby football. In countries with other forms of football (USA, Australia) soccer became more generic, basically a synonym for 'football' in the international sense, to distinguish it from their domestic game. If the word "soccer" originated in Eng