panjomin (panjomin) wrote in linguaphiles,
panjomin
panjomin
linguaphiles

Word aversion

Just finished reading a pile of articles (some links here and here) on word aversion:  when a word grosses you out for no apparent reason.  This is not the same as being annoyed by neologisms or hating a word for what it means. It's an inexplicable feeling of revulsion whenever you hear the word or (worse yet) have to say it.

According to the pile of articles, the most hated word in English is "moist."  No one mentions hating words with similar meanings ("damp") or similar sounds ("hoist").  It's just the word itself that bugs people--and not even the linguists at Language Log can explain why.

Conversely, there are words people seem to like saying, but there isn't much agreement on them (though "cellar door" and "serendipity" come up surprisingly often).

Anyway, what I haven't seen anywhere is a discussion of what the most hated (or most loved) words are in other languages.  So my questions to you, fellow Linguaphiles, are:

1. Are there words in your language(s) that disgust you for no obvious reason?

2. Are there words in your language(s) that delight you for no obvious reason?

3. Does anyone have a linguistic (or other) explanation for this?

My answers:

1.  I hate the English expression "touch base" as in "I wanted to touch base with you about next week."  Hate it, hate it, hate it.

2.  I love saying "Mirabeau" even though my French these days is mostly passive.

3.  All I have are random guesses.  The "touch" in "touch base" may suggest unwanted intimacy, esp. since the expression (unlike "touch and go," for example) is often followed by "with you."  But then the phrase "get in touch with you" doesn't bother me.  The "beau" in "Mirabeau" is nice, but then again I have no special attachment to other words with the same sound, like "beau-père" or "lavabo."
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