Today I am doing my first post on a wonderful word . And that word is phonaesthetics.
Phonaesthetics is the study of the pleasantness or unpleasantness of the sound of words, phrases or sentences.
When I was a child I had two words which I would often say aloud. I loved the sound of them. They are hyena and Ethiopia. I think it was the vowel sounds that I found pleasant to say. I thought it was just a childish habit but I was experiencing the joy of phonaesthetics.
Now I have some new favourite words. I like silhouette, luxurious, effervescent, oceanic. My husband thought sebaceous cyst had a pleasant sound. (Remember semantics is ignored.)
It has been decided by some experts that the most beautiful sounding word in the English language is the compound word cellar door. Forget the semantics, the picture in your head or anything else and you find that it does have a pleasant sound. Slur the first r and say Seladore. Doesn’t it sound like a kingdom in a fantasy novel or a hero’s name? Actually, J. R. R. Tolkein was one of the first to recognize the beauty of the word.
It is not my favourite but I will admit its beauty, phonaesthetically. I also like leather. Even the way your tongue touches your teeth and the roof of your mouth, as you say it, feels pleasant.
Do you have a word that you think sounds beautiful? Remember, ignore its meaning.
Share it with us in a comment.