Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Favourite words


What word sounds most beautiful to you? For me: 'oblivion'. 

A friend said this said a lot about me. In fact it is not possible to separate sound from sense completely. As T.S. Eliot said 'where Alph the sacred river ran' is much more beautiful than 'where Alf the bread delivery man.'
Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back, 
Wherein he stores alms for oblivion.

A Romanian told me on my first day in Romania that his favourite English word is 'twilight.' I think twilight sounds a bit twee but I think dusk, which has a Roman lapidary feel to it, is one of my very favourites. 

A proper noun that makes great poetry is 'Hebrides'. 

Another very beautiful place name is Madagascar. (Actually I have been to Madagascar and the country herself, inevitably, is not as wonderful as her name - how could she be?)

Danuta Keane's favourite words to say aloud are 'elbow', 'psychopathy' and 'sarcophagus'. I only understand her choice of sarcophagus. On the Brains Trust, long ago before I was born, the not very clever military man chose


Another favourite is Plantagenet. 

"Where is Bohun, where's Mowbray, where's Mortimer? Nay, which is more and most of all, where is Plantagenet? They are entombed in the urns and sepulchres of mortality"

Yes I detect the flavour of death in many of the words I am choosing - oblivion, dusk, urns and sepulchres, even Plantagenet. Is it the death instinct, which takes command of every mother's boy? Possibly yes, who knows?

In Romanian my most beautiful word to say aloud is 'domnisoara' which means young lady. Feel free to make jokes. A word I like just as much, but which is positively ugly, very un-euphonious, is 'hodoronc-tronc', which means suddenly, out of a blue sky. I wonder what its etymology is. Another word, which my Romanian friends do not like my using - it is gypsy and therefore very vulgar - is 'gagica', which means a hot chick or floozy. The very word 'gagica', heavy emphasis on the second syllable, makes the mouth water as if eating a peach.


  1. Lovely post! Trying to think of a favourite word and can't. Will get back to you on that one :D

  2. gagica! nice . . . like a little magic gadget . . .