As a writer I love words. I believe in their power to inspire and to hurt. I love the sound of certain words and disdain others, so I thought I’d write about words I like and those I dislike.
I got the idea for this post after hearing exacerbated used in one of my audio books. I don’t like that word at all, it doesn’t roll off my tongue easily and I mess it up any time I try to say it. I like the meaning of the word: to make worse, but I can’t use it because it is so difficult to both say and write.
I occasionally (another word I don't like because I never spell it right!) work as a substitute teacher in the local school district and I find myself struggling to pronounce the varied names of the students in the class. How awful is it that I keep asking the class, “How do you say his/her name?” when the poor child is sitting right there? I ask the class because I often can’t understand the child who belongs to the name. Not only are some of the names difficult to remember, they are darned hard to pronounce and a few have annoyed me. How about “Javenus”, a name which doesn’t lend itself to an easy pronunciation, it’s just a choppy name. I embrace diversity and like creative names, but some of them make me grateful for vanilla names like Melanie and Tommy.
I often think of James Lipton, host of The Actor’s Studio, who asks his guests, “What is your favorite or least favorite word?” Many of the answers are words with meaning, such as bigot or truth. If I were to answer in kind I would say my least favorite words are hurtful curse words, or curse words in general. I don’t like to hear someone pepper their speech by swearing every other word; it is a waste of perfectly good language. However, when alone, usually in my car or in my yard and either a pushy and rude driver or a kinked garden hose gets the best of me, I can spout profanities as good as any Hell’s Angel, so who am I to talk?
My favorite words with meaning are cliché: love, kindness, justice. I’d have to say my all-time favorite word, one that easily rolls of my tongue and holds meaning for me is Siskiyou. The word just sounds wonderful and it reminds me of a place I long to be; the mountains of northern California/southern Oregon. I loved the word so much I named a new puppy “Siskiyou” but unfortunately it died young from Parvovirus. The experience was painful but at least I don’t associate the loss with the name, I still consider it my favorite.
What is your least favorite word? Your favorite? Why? What meaning do these words hold for you, or do you like them just because they sound good to you?