Sunday 22 September 2013

Sunday 22nd September - The Sounds of Words

Have you ever noticed how some words sound exactly like what they mean?

Like "chocolate" - a warm, rich sound, with a bit of hardness in it, just like when you bite into a bar of Lindt or Suchard milk chocolate?

Suchard Papillon

or "voluptuous" - a big, round sound, with open vowels and maybe a bit of a wobble

"fierce" - a strong "ff" and a hissing ending

I expect I shall get more "stick" for including

"snide" - a sort of sly, sideways, sneaking, underhand, mean sound - in this blog. Someone used the word about something I had written, and I was very taken aback for a whole load of reasons, not the least because I had not thought of myself as being a "snide" person, or writing anything that could be regarded as being "snide".
Alan Rickman as Obadiah Slope in "The Warden" by Anthony Trollope

It was a sharp reminder that people read all sorts of things into what you write, even if they were never there in the first place.

Still, reflecting on that gave me this whole new chain of thoughts to follow. Carrying on;

"sharp" - a pointy sort word; slight flattened vowel sound, abrupt ending.
Arthurian Sword from the Metropolitan Museum
"words" - swords re-arranged, something that communicates, cuts, clears, forms, constructs, deconstructs, describes, makes, and unmakes

That's just for starters - and by the way, have you ever noticed that bed LOOKS just like a bed?


  1. Oh, I'm so glad I'm not the only one who does this with words... Never thought of the shape of "bed" before though! We had an English teacher at school who taught us about onomatopoeia by saying "apple" sounded just like... An apple. Does, doesn't it? That started me on a lifelong interest in sounds of words!

  2. That's one of the things I enjoy about being a musician; the "performance directions" sound so much more beautiful in Italian.
    Allegro, andante, cantabile, scherzando, sforzando, pesante - they all sound "right"