Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's the ugliest word in the English language?

Welcome to my blog, the place to visit for news about Carolinas books and authors . Even before I began covering the books beat, I knew the Carolinas had a rich literary history. But I’m still amazed at the writing talent we can claim.

Did you know, for instance, that Rock Hill is home to a fantasy writer with more than 2.5 million books in print? Check back here later this week to hear her story.

Along with writing about Carolinas talent, I’ll give you a heads up about authors coming to town. (Margaret Atwood’s at Davidson College Feb. 25. And the price is right: Free!)

I’ll also muse occasionally about reading, literary trends and one of my favorite subjects: the English language.

I was fascinated, for instance, by the “On Language” column in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. In it, Grant Barrett describes the case for “cellar door” as one of the loveliest phrases in our language. Who knew?

Here’s a word at the top of my ugly-word list: “Blog.”

Sounds like the child of of blob and slog, first cousin to soggy.

How’d it originate? As shorthand for “web log,” coined, we can guess, by someone who doesn’t dwell on the musicality of language.

I’ve tried to think of a better substitute for this thing I’m writing, but I’m coming up dry. Cyber journal? Ick. Thesaurus.com couldn’t even give me a synonym for “blog.”

“No results,” it said. “Did you mean bog?”


tarhoosier said...

Cellar door has long been the choice for most mellifluous phrase in English. Mostly because it sounds like French.
(Sel ou d'or-Salt or gold)

Anonymous said...

I think "blossom" and "petunia" are also fugly words.

Anonymous said...

The word "cobbler" gives me the creeps

Anonymous said...

"Liberal" is a pretty bad word.

tarhoosier said...

Henry James said "summer afternoon" were the best words.

Alex said...

From a non-native speaker perspective:
I really dislike "default".
On my top list: "unobtrusive" and "vivacious".

Looking forward to your weblog entries!

Anonymous said...

The word "crotch" always stuck in my craw.

Peregrino said...

"Bigot" is as ugly sounding as its meaning deserves. I not sure what this this "goodness of fit" is called; it is almost a form of onomatopoeia.

Anonymous said...

Sorry...but I think cancer is the ugliest word---EVER!

Jean Beatty said...

Perhaps bigot, cancer,etc sound ugly because they stand for something ugly. For writers like I am, the ugliest work is probably 'got.' Never use it unless you absolutely have to.