My mind, my thoughts, my words


If you know me, you’ve probably already been one of my subjects.
When I meet someone, usually one of my first questions is: “What are your favourite words (in any languages)?”

wordsI’m a linguist. You’re probably one, too. So you should understand my fascination for words 🙂
When I hear a new word, what really matters to me is not its meaning but how it sounds. So a reason for me wanting to learn English, French, Spanish and Arabic was because I love how these languages sound. Sometimes when I’m talking to someone and the content seems rather uninteresting to me, I seem to ‘switch off’ my brain areas dealing with semantics and simply listen to the sounds. The same happens when I listen to music.  Some of my friends find that a little odd, they say they’re not able to ignore the semantic parts of the lyrics, i.e. focus on the phonological ones alone (read this Research Report “Singing in the brain – Independence of Lyrics and Tunes” by Besson, Faita, Peretz, Bonnel and Requin).

Anyway, to come back to my initial question; here are my favourite words:

  • German: Kugelschreiber (ballpoint pen), Schlibradoni (apparently a German swear word)
  • English: sophisticated, subsequent (I generally like s-words), malicious, mellifluous, superstitious
  • French: parapluie (umbrella), magnifique (magnificent)
  • Spanish: duda (doubt), susurro (whisper), pepino (cucumber), pequeño (small)
  • Arabic: as-sayaara (car)
  • Italian: zanzara (mosquito)

I’m always on the hunt for new words. What are your favourites? (leave a comment)

6 comments on “WordHunt

  1. Christopher

    J R R Tolkien liked the phrase ‘cellar door’, simply because it sounds beautiful, completely disregarding the meaning. He claimed there are lots of ‘cellar doors’ in Welsh. For example, one of my favourite words is ‘damwain’ (pronounce as ‘damn wine’), which means ‘accident’. Or ‘mynwent’, which means ‘cemetory’ (from Latin ‘monument-‘).

  2. Amie Fairs

    In English: Gorgonzola. Sublime. The best is ‘catholicism’ – the ‘licism’ is my favourite mesh of sounds.
    Izquierda (and even derecha) in Spanish.
    Te dua (I love you in Albanian) might be my favourite. Just got to meet some more albanians!

  3. pippa.shoemark

    Sacapuntas and Diecisiete have always been favourites of mine in Spanish 🙂

    Anyway, this post reminded me of a great sketch by Monty Python….

    (Although a lot of mine and Gina’s favourite words actually seem to be quite tinny…)

  4. Gina

    “licism”, “izquierda” and “te dua” are pretty cool! The latter one remind me of the nice word “habibi” which I just recently came across – Arabic for ‘sweatheart’.

    “Sacapuntas” reminds me of the French “sacrĂ©bleu” and the German “sakradi” (both swear words) – like them all 🙂

    The sketch is brilliant!

  5. Lake District

    As a Scotsman, I love the rolling ‘r’ sound.
    In English/Scots my favourite words would therefore be …. anything with ‘r’ – roadroller, railroad, burger etc – too many to list.

    I’m also learning Spanish and love the sound of it especially the similar rolling ‘r’ sound in that language. My tutor taught me this Spanish tongue twister –

    Erre con erre cigarro
    Erre con erre barril
    Rapido corren los carros
    Los carros de ferrocarril

  6. tanaxanth

    For me one of my favorite words is inconceivable. The use of words is always interesting and how we hear them even when thinking of them.
    I also have other favorite words and since I wanted to better know myself and others, I joined – take a look, you might like that site.

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This entry was posted on 20/04/2011 by in Academia, Linguistic Musings and tagged , , .
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