or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Joy Forever

If you've seen the movie Donnie Darko, you'll remember the assertion that "cellar door" is the most beautiful word in the English language (possibly out of Mencken), which works only if you hyphenate it, as otherwise it's in contention for the most beautiful phrase in English, a competition which may or may not exist. A former English teacher of mine discussed this topic once, and said that novelist Arnold Bennett declared that "pavement" was the most beautiful word: the way she pronounced it, it almost was. James Joyce apparently awarded the laurel to "cuspidor", and any number of people have weighed in on the subject over the years.

I'm not entirely sure what the criteria are for such judgements, but I've always been partial to long, fluid words. I don't know if it's on anybody's most-beautiful list, but I have always loved the metre and pace of the word "irremediably". And when I was a mere tad of maybe 11--a mere tad with strange and varied reading tastes--I ran across "salpingoöophorectomy" and instantly fell in love with it. (It's not a word with an especially lovely meaning, mind you: it's the surgical operation in which the Fallopian tubes and the ovaries are removed. But the word itself is a wonder, liquid and sinuous. Also: three "-o-"s in a row!)


Blogger brownstudy said...

I always liked "insouciant."

And I remember reading somewhere about a non-English speaking woman who wanted to name her daughter "Diahhrea" because she loved the sounds of the word. She was very unhappy when told what it meant.

Friday, July 01, 2005 1:56:00 PM  

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