Condensation and displacement in word aversion

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Matthew J.X. Malady summarizes readers' comments on his Slate "word aversion" piece — "Which Words Do Slate Readers Hate?", 4/2/2013:

Hundreds of commenters chimed in to report aversions keyed to words extending from apple to zesty. Among the others mentioned: foyer, salad, hose, lapel, plethora, funicular, groin, nostril, and munch. Several commenters noted an aversion to belly. Additional repeating themes included 1) using known word aversion weaknesses to torment and tease siblings, spouses, and other family members, and 2) an uncomfortable commenting posture that amounted to, as PaisleyScribe put it, “shuddering as I type” the offending word.

He ends his list of striking comments with two co-MVP ("most vividly plaintive"?) awards:

In the meantime, I will bid you adieu by ceding the floor to the “Why Do We Hate Certain Words?” commenting co-MVPs. First up is ochnas2, who wins the prize for best description of what it’s like to experience an aversion to the word gorgeous. “I have hated this word as long as I [can] remember. It is a visceral reaction. I wouldn’t say it makes me nauseous, but hearing it gives me the same creepy feeling you would get when you first notice a spider crawling on you that has obviously been there a while.”

And, finally, there’s fsutrill, a “writer/editor/proofreader and bilingual” who maintains a list of aversive words that includes pus, spittle, and putrid. But beyond all others, fsutrill cannot stand the word cigarette, a word that seems so deeply repulsive that fsutrill has never once spoken it aloud. “I’m 43,” fsutrill notes. “Crazy, huh?”

Cynthia McLemore has pointed out to me that many of these reports of "word aversion" are reminiscent of Freud's ideas about the emergence of repressed ideas in dreams via condensation (German Verdichtung) and displacement (German Verschiebung). From his New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1933):

Let us go back once more to the latent dream-thoughts. Their most powerful element is the repressed instinctual impulse which has created in them an expression for itself on the basis of the presence of chance stimuli and by transference onto the day’s residues – though an expression that is toned down and disguised. [...] The latent dream-thoughts are thus transformed into a collection of sensory images and visual scenes. It is as they travel on this course that what seems to us so novel and so strange occurs to them. All the linguistic instruments by which we express the subtler relations of thought – the conjunctions and prepositions, the changes in declension and conjugation – are dropped, because there are no means of representing them; just as in a primitive language without any grammar, only the raw material of thought is expressed and abstract termsare taken back to the concrete ones that are at their basis. What is left over after this may well appear disconnected. The copious employment of symbols, which have become alien to conscious thinking, for representing certain objects and processes is in harmony alike with the archaic regression in the mental apparatus and with the demands of the censorship.

But other changes made in the elements of the dream-thoughts go far beyond this. Such of those elements as allow any point of contact to be found between them are condensed  into new unities. In the process of transforming the thoughts into pictures, preference is unmistakably given to such as permit of this putting-together, this condensation; it is as though a force were at work which was subjecting the material to compression and concentration. As a result of condensation, one element in the manifest dream may correspond to numerous elements in the latent dream-thoughts; but, conversely too, one element in the dream-thoughts may be represented by several images in the dream.

Still more remarkable is the other process – displacement or shifting of accent – which in conscious thinking we come across only as faulty reasoning or as means for a joke. The different ideas in the dream-thoughts are, indeed, not all of equal value; they are cathected with quotas of affect of varying magnitude and are correspondingly judged to be important and deserving of interest to a greater or less degree. In the dream-work these ideas are separated from the affects attaching to them. The affects are dealt with independently; they may be displaced on to something else, they may be retained, they may undergo alterations, or they may not appear in the dream at all. The importance of the ideas that have been stripped of their affect returns in the dream as sensory strength in the dream-pictures; but we observe that this accent has passed over from important elements to indifferent ones. Thus something that played only a minor part in the dream-thoughts seems to be pushed into the foreground in the dream as the main thing, while, on the contrary, what was the essence of the dream-thoughts finds only passing and indistinct representation in the dream. No other part of the dream-work is so much responsible for making the dream strange and incomprehensible to the dreamer. Displacement is the principal means used in the dream-distortion to which the dream-thoughts must submit under the influence of the censorship.

The Wikipedia article on displacement notes that

In 1957, Jacques Lacan – building on the way in Freud's work, condensation (from German Verdichtung) and displacement are closely linked concepts, and inspired by an article by linguist Roman Jakobson – argued that the unconscious has the structure of a language, and that condensation and displacement are close equivalents to the poetic functions of metaphor and metonymy. As he cautiously put it, 'in the case of Verschiebung, "displacement", the German term is closer to the idea of that veering off of signification that we see in metonymy, and which from its first appearance in Freud is represented as the most appropriate means used by the unconscious to foil censorship'.

My own instinct would be to look for Pavlovian rather than Freudian mechanisms — but as I noted in an earlier post, there has apparently never been any systematic (much less scientific) investigation of the phenomenon of word aversion. I was therefore amused by the way that Matthew's article was framed on the Today show:

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"So there's been some scientific research that there are certain words that make people have a physical negative reaction to them …"

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51 Comments »

  1. Ian Tindale said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 6:16 am

    Surely it has absolutely zero to do with the deep or surface meaning of the word? I’d have thought it was wholly to do with the sound of the word — almost an onomatopoeic association with something untoward in the imagination, that makes that kind of associated sonic sequence.d

    [(myl) There are certainly some cases that seem to be phonetically based, but there's also a suspicious sprinkling of words like slurp, crevice, groin, pus, creamy, tissue, insert, squat, etc.]

    There’s often lists of “favourite words’, which I usually find onomatopoeic in a sort of edible direction — as if they are words that people like to eat. My favourite word like that is ‘buttress’, but other people have other favourite words. I wonder if there’s a correlation — favourite at one end, aversion at the other end, of the same scale of whatever it is we’re observing or measuring here.

    [(myl) See "Word attraction", 5/13/2009.]

  2. Martin Coxall said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 6:42 am

    Buttress is a significant word.

    Rhomboid. Malleable. Lenticular. Bulb. Crevice. Mince.

    These are a few of my favourite things.

  3. Linda Seebach said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 6:43 am

    "just as in a primitive language without any grammar, " . . . how's that again?

    [(myl) One of Freud's flashes of 19th-century pseudo-science...]

    I was wondering, though, whether there are cross-linguistic correlations, either with the meaning of aversive words or with their sound.

    [(myl) I've seen no reports of this phenomenon in any other languages. It would be weird if it were purely an anglophone thing -- but I'm also surprised that no LL commenters have written things like "I'm a native speaker of French, and I can't stand to say or hear or write the word onctueuse..."]

    BTW, my email address is @plethora.net

  4. Victor Mair said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 7:19 am

    Forgive me for being naive or fastidious or squeamish (I have a small amount of aversion to the last word), but, the same way fsutrill is with "cigarette", I am with the "f" word. I've never spoken it in my entire life, and I always cringe when I hear it or see it written. Even "WTF" bothers me, and I'd never say it. I can only remember two times in my life when someone has used the "f" word in anger directly against me, and both times it was a person whom I loved very much. When they shouted the "f" word at me, I felt as though I had been pierced by a dagger.

    I used to use the word "snafu" freely and thought it had a comical ring to it. Once I learned its true etymology and have come to realize that the "f" word is embedded within it, I feel very awkward about using it.

  5. GeorgeW said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 7:34 am

    @Victor Mair: Aren't taboo words, like the "f" word, in a different category from aversions?

    However, maybe there is some overlap as many taboos involve bodily functions and there can be such as association with words like 'moist.'

  6. Rod Johnson said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 7:35 am

    So am I unusual in not having this reaction (or, really, the opposite positive reaction) to any word? I don't think I'm aesthetically numb (I hope not, anyway), but my reaction to people having this reaction is just… bafflement.

    [(myl) As far as I can tell, most people are like you. But I don't know of any believable survey results that would tell us whether the affected group is 0.3% or 3% or 30% of the population.]

  7. Rod Johnson said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 7:40 am

    @myl: "It would be weird if it were purely an anglophone thing". Would it? It wouldn't be totally surprising if there was something about our linguistic culture that opened the way for this. I'm not saying there is, just that it seems possibly specific to out time and/or culture. I certainly don't remember *ever* hearing the emotion expressed when I was young–it almost feels like a madness-of-crowds kind of cultural epidemic rather than a persisting phenomenon.

  8. Rod Johnson said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 7:40 am

    O for an edit capability: "our" not "out."

  9. Jeff Carney said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 7:47 am

    Of course it's an Anglophone thing. Why else would we have 17 different words for "moist"?

  10. Mark P said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 7:58 am

    Crepuscular is one of those words for me. It's odd that when it's combined with "rays" it refers to one of the most beautiful things you can see in the sky.

  11. Jason said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 8:12 am

    I just had a brain flash: Most likely, those reporting severe word aversion ("it literally makes me ill") have a form of low-grade Synesthesia, undiagnosed. No taboo avoidance or Freudian theories needed.

  12. Dave said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 8:23 am

    Yes, either there's some genuine neurological defect here, in which case this phenomenon would be diagnosable cross-culturally, or these people are just silly self-indulgent wankers.

  13. Victor Mair said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    Good point, GeorgeW.

    There's word aversion, and then there's word revulsion, which borders on taboo.

  14. Eorr said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 8:25 am

    funicular? really? I doubt I have ever heard this word spoken, or ridden one, or even been to a place where I was aware on existed. For me word aversion is related to mouth 'feel'. Moist, Foyer – actually I just realized that all my distasteful words involve ɔɪ surrounded by specific phonemes. I went and looked and it seems that this holds up for me because loyalty is weird at best, roil (and even worse roiling) is especially bad.

    Rereading this comment for editing is near impossible. I don't feel well.

  15. Y said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 8:50 am

    It's hard to account for all word aversions for every person. I developed one for 'meal' later in life; it makes me think of ground-up gristle, and not just at McDonald's.
    I suspect that 'moist' has such universal unpopularity because it belongs both with words with that particular meaning ('wet', 'damp') and words of that sound ('boil', 'foist'). When both are put together, the association with bare foot meeting slug is hard to avoid.

  16. Ralph Hickok said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 8:57 am

    I'm with Rod Johnson on this, so far as word aversion goes. I do have a positive reaction to some words (I love the word "mellifluous," for example), but I have no aversion to any words and I am rather baffled by the fact that some people do.

  17. Aaron Toivo said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 9:11 am

    @Mark P: "crepuscular" makes more sense to me as a word to find aversion to than almost any other, as it evokes both "crap" and "pus" and then grafts that rather horrifying image pair onto what is most of the word "muscular".

    What a vile orchestra of unpleasant thoughts.

  18. Martha said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 9:31 am

    Ralph Hickock, I find it interesting that while some words cause a positive visceral reaction in you, it it still baffling that some words would cause a negative visceral reaction in others. I wonder if word affection is more common, or whether people in general feel it as strongly. I would say that although I get squeamish when I hear "panties," I don't exactly get filled with joy when I hear my favorite word, "boulevard."

  19. Y said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 9:34 am

    @Rod Johnson, the Old Farmer's Almanac has sporadically been publishing lists of "the most beautiful" and "the ugliest" words in the English language, based on readers' contributions. The point is that that these lists started coming out decades ago, so that is not such a new phenomenon. The "most beautiful" words always had things like 'butterfly', and the ugliest had words like 'screech'. I don't remember if 'moist' words played any part in this.

  20. Mary Apodaca said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 10:04 am

    I'm a native English speaker who has spent time in France.

    I don't like the English word 'drool.' I don't like 'baveux/se' either.

    It makes me sad that everytime I make an omelette I think of 'une omelette baveuse' (English: 'runny').

    The word 'runny' on the other hand seems, well, funny.

  21. Brian said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 10:45 am

    When I first saw this post, I couldn't help but imagine that the "condensation" in the title was about making things moist. In fact, I'm still a little disappointed that it isn't.

  22. Belial said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 11:24 am

    Y's note about "most beautiful" word lists including words like 'butterfly' brings to mind of course the old joke of the group of people in conversation – the English speaker says "was there ever so beautiful a word as 'butterfly'" and one by one the speakers of other languages rhapsodize about the equally beautiful word in their language. The Frenchman praises le papillon, the others wax poetic about mariposa, parpar, etc till the German says "Yes! In my language too we use a beautiful word for this beautiful creature – der Schmetterling!" This is always funny to English speakers, I've never asked a native German speaker if they find it equally so.

  23. Rodger C said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 11:27 am

    (1) In Everything you Ever Wanted to Know about Sex a woman in bed with Woody Allen says to him, "Say the dirtiest word you know," and he says, "Ointment."

    (2) Uglúk u bagronk sha pushdug Saruman-glob búbhosh skai.

  24. Faldone said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

    Loved Al Roker's ,"Only I didn't say 'fudge.' I said the mother of all words."

  25. Theophylact said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

    There's some indication that the "f" in "snafu" really was originally "fouled". But the case isn't closed.

  26. Rodger C said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 1:42 pm

    @Theophylact: I learned "fouled" first, as a boy, but now it's hard for me to believe that it isn't simply a euphemism for the other one.

  27. Jo Walton said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

    My husband hates the word "succulent". My son used to use it to tease him.

  28. T Barna said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

    A late entry to the Word Aversions Commentary:
    In 1961, and after 30 years of use, the name of the annual Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo was changed to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. This event was a big deal when started in 1931, e.g., the schools were let out, and still makes big bucks today.

  29. Keith M Ellis said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 3:41 pm

    It seems most likely to me that the desire to categorically define word aversion is quixotic, because it's really just a catch-all for an emotionally-laden dislike of words that is not a direct example of either taboo violation (such as in Victor's case) or peeving about usage.

    Words are necessarily variously loaded with emotional evocation; and given how many different encounters with these words that most people have had, and the variety of experiences and associations, such emotional reactions are going to be ambiguous, diffuse, somewhat (or entirely) mysterious. So some people will form more idiosyncratic responses to some words, many people will form similar reactions to particular words that are more likely to have widely similar constellations of associations and experiences for different people. Phonetics and semantics will both play a role, particular cultural associations will play a role, childhood experiences will play a role. All of this will mix to make any definitive, rigorous categorization impossible.

    This is surely true of positive associations, as well. But word aversion clearly has a disgust component and it's worth pointing out that disgust is an unusually potent and resilient emotional response, forming strong associations with triggering events, and bypassing a lot of volitional thought. Think about disgust related to food as contrasted to dislike and like. Word aversion as self-attested probably includes the equivalent of everything from a food dislike to a food disgust, even though there's some important differences between the two, not just in degree.

    Finally, as pointed out by Mark above, while much attested aversion does seem arbitrary, quite a few examples have clear relationships to aversive reactions to what the words represent. My suspicion is that different people have different levels of awareness of the distance between these words and what they represent; and that those who maintain a strong awareness of that distance, for whatever reason, there's not word aversion in particular cases — there's just an awareness of an aversion (if present) for what the word represents.

    But that shouldn't be taken to imply that all aversions are really just disguised reactions to what the words represent. That's simplistic. This is where those ideas of Freud's are relevant — the psychological associations we form and the memories and responses those associations evoke, are really very complicated. They're mediated by a great many different things, and while I don't really think that self-censorship is driving these word association versions of "displacement" and "condensation", it seems likely that this happens, for whatever reasons.

  30. Mark P said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 4:06 pm

    @Theophylact – It's my understanding that FUBAR is military slang (backed up by the wiki, for what that's worth, and by my father, who was in the Army in WW II). My father said the F was for "fouled" but if SNAFU and the other "F" acronyms are really military slang, I would expect that the f word is actually the other one.

  31. Tim Leonard said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 4:20 pm

    The suggestion of synesthesia is an interesting one. I have synesthesia in which letters and digits have associated colors. My wife associates the color chartreuse with nausea, in both directions. Synesthesia is far more common than most people realize. I can easily imagine that particular phoneme combinations might produce emotional or sensory impressions in other people through synesthesia, regardless of the phonemes' semantics as words.

    in a perhaps-related vein, I occasionally experience a sensory tic (something like needing to sneeze, or scratch an itch) in which I want to pronounce a particular word that I've just read, or heard, or thought of. A few years ago I realized that the word always included an L, and pronouncing the L, or even just imagining doing so, was what satisfied the urge.

  32. Jerry Friedman said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

    Belial: I just saw the Schmetterling joke for the first time last month, with the punchline "And what is wrong with Schmetterling?"

    Rodger C.: Elen síla lúmenn' omentielmo! (In English, "A syanon esso decca hi hawaya!)

    Jo Walton: But your son's a Jarnish partisan, as I recall.

  33. maidhc said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

    I dislike "crepuscular" because its sound is so unlike its meaning, and I dislike it in French too (Django recorded a tune titled Mélodie au Crépuscule which fits with the meaning but not the sound). If its meaning were something more repulsive I'd be okay with it. But I'm not averse to it in the sense that other people have mentioned. It's more like "Schmetterling? Mariposa is much better!"

  34. Ted said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 6:03 pm

    @VHM: How have you managed to avoid New York for your entire life? Surely an aversion to that particular word would make it impossible for you to communicate here.

  35. John said,

    April 3, 2013 @ 9:31 pm

    Purely idiosyncratic, but I strongly dislike "Zit". Synonyms and rhymes are perfectly fine, but that one word is the only one in English (or any other language, in fact) that I'd prefer not exist.

  36. mira said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 1:15 am

    I have a strong word aversion to the word "taut", and I'm pretty sure it's because it's a word I've really only heard my mother say, and she can be quite annoying sometimes. I suppose that's Freudian.

  37. GeorgeW said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 5:55 am

    @Keith M Ellis: This is not completely idiosyncratic – see 'moist' about which there seems to be some more common aversion. Also, I don't think that categorization is impossible. 'Disgust,' which you mention, would be one category. 'Pretentious' (or hoity-toity) might be another. Maybe 'foyer' from the list above (pronounced as in French) would be an example.

  38. Keith M Ellis said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

    @GeorgeW, in my prolixity I must have obscured some of my argument. I intended to emphasize that these aversions range from the idiosyncratic to those widely shared (and likely widely shared for similar reasons).

    And with regard to my argument against this categorization (as something potentially very well-defined), my point was precisely that everything we're calling word aversion could be better divided into distinct categories because we're lumping together quite a few things, many of which are disparate.

    People argue about what word aversion really is on the basis of their own (or their observed) particular aversions; but since there's a wide variety of aversions and in the mysterious genesis of those aversions, such arguments are going to be inconclusive.

    I think we mostly can only say what they're not: they're not usage peeves (which would include disliking pretentious usage), and they're not quite obviously and directly a reaction against what they signify or that they're taboo. The one positive thing we can say is that the dislike is not mere dislike, but something somewhat more powerful and visceral; although I think that this ranges from being vaguely the case to being outright intense disgust. But outside of those three (or four, depending upon how you count them) qualifications, word aversions are diverse and very difficult to characterize.

  39. Olga said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 1:39 pm

    I'm still giggling about Woody Allen and the ointment. Completely made my day.
    I recently noticed that French dairy products in Canadia are often advertized as being onctueux. This would suggest to me that the word is not repulsive to native French speakers.
    Regarding whether the Schmetterling joke is funny to Germans: First time I heard it was done masterfully, with a beautiful Wochenschau-like accent which made the word sound like a weapon of mass destruction. But without that type of performance, the joke is pretty unfunny: Schmetterling *is* a pretty word. To me at least.

  40. Andy Averill said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

    Seems like the most basic research that needs to be done would be to separate the aversions based on sound from those based on sense. There might also be an intermediate category involving onamatopoeia — with words like gloppy, for instance, it's kind of hard to separate the sound and the sense.

    It seems as though the ones based on sense are less interesting because they're so easy to explain. I'm not especially fond of the word turd, but I'm not having any trouble figuring out why. Maybe Freud would have something to say about that.

  41. Andy Averill said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 3:10 pm

    Ugh, forgot to turn off italics. Crap.

  42. Mr Punch said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

    Growing up as a child of the WWII generation (in the US), it seemed clear to me that SNAFU and FUBAR were military slang. SNAFU entered general usage, but I think FUBAR was avoided by women – perhaps because it was a bit too close to a known, and improper, origin.

  43. Ø said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 8:29 pm

    For me "crepuscular" evokes crepes and coruscation more than it evokes anything repulsive. For real dissonance give me "pulchritude" any time.

  44. David Morris said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

    Some of my ESL students are very limited and rely more on electronic translators than on any real understanding of English. The lesson we've just completed was on 'Life in [this country]' – the reading portion was on Britain and the listening portion was on Australia, then they were meant to progress to writing and speaking about their own countries. Along the way we encountered 'people', 'men', 'women' and 'children' and also 'some', 'many', 'most' and 'all'. The first sentence to complete positively or negatively about their own country was 'In my country, most people ____ (live) in houses'. One student attempted to type 'most people' into her translator. Unfortunately she typed in 'moist people' and probably got a very misleading translation.

  45. Rod Johnson said,

    April 4, 2013 @ 9:15 pm

    @Y: I would submit that though a strong aesthetic reaction to words is of course not new—it goes back at least to Keats' "forlorn" and probably long before—finding words "beautiful" or "ugly" is not the same thing at all as the kind of visceral revulsion nowadays often associated with "moist." And even if that isn't completely new, which I'm sure it isn't, there still could be a mass-hysterical element at work… OK, hysteria is too strong a word. I'll reserve that for phenomena like the Great Khartoum Penis-Melting Zionist Robot Comb Epidemic of 2003. But a viral element elevating people's awareness of words they might have once found mildly weird-sounding. I believe the clamor over "moist" is relatively recent–what's the oldest reference to it anyone can find?

  46. Bloix said,

    April 8, 2013 @ 2:06 pm

    I suspect that in virtually all cases the supposed revulsion or attraction is not to the sound of the word but to its meaning or to meanings it suggests. Take this interchange between Captain Jack Aubrey and his friend Stephen Maturin (in The Yellow Admiral, by Patrick O'Brian)(years earlier Captain Aubrey had been discharged from the Navy on a trumped up criminal charge, and later vindicated and returned to the service):

    'You did use the word reinstatement, did you not?'
    'I did. And as I recall it was quite unqualified.'
    'There is no more beautiful word in the English language, which, I am told, is richer than the Hebrew, Chaldee or Greek.'

  47. Craig S said,

    April 9, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

    GeorgeW: for what it's worth, as a Canadian, whose English dialect is obviously more significantly influenced by regular contact with a French dialect than American English is, I have exactly the opposite reaction to "foyer": to me the French "foy-é" pronunciation is just normal and not at all pretentious, and the Americanized "foy-err" pronunciation is an ungainly and wince-inducing monstrosity.

  48. Rod Johnson said,

    April 9, 2013 @ 2:05 pm

    That's just Jack saying how happy he is to be reinstated, not claiming that "reinstatement" is a beautiful word per se.

  49. Mary Kuhner said,

    April 10, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

    A book on writing that I read many years ago (title forgotten, alas) said that writers sometimes pay a lot of attention to word sounds, and will point to "the murmuring of innumerable bees" as an example of the marriage of sound and sense, but that "the murdering of innumerable beeves" sounds almost the same but does not at all produce the same reaction.

    There do seem to be words for which English speakers perceive a gap between sound and sense: "pulchritude" is the glaring example. Apparently "crepuscular" is that way for a lot of people (not me; we use it of our cats all the time, and it evokes "creeping" for me, which fits the cats quite well). Are there others of these?

  50. Keith said,

    April 12, 2013 @ 6:29 am

    Eorr wrote funicular? really? I doubt I have ever heard this word spoken, or ridden one, or even been to a place where I was aware on existed.

    I'm not an anorak, but I have ridden on a funicular in at least five different places: Santiago and Valparaíso in Chile, the Isle of Man and Scarborough in the UK, and most frequently and recently in Paris, France.

    Maybe you live in Kansas?

    K.

  51. The Frazzled One said,

    April 29, 2013 @ 10:26 am

    In addition to synesthesia, allow me to postulate sensory defensiveness as another explanation. Probably the more and the more severe word aversions someone has, the higher the likelihood that they have sensory processing disorder.

    It very well might be new if it is a cultural phenomenon, but I have proof of SPD-induced word aversions dating back several generations. They can stay the same for the person's entire life, or they can change in severity, appear, or disappear with no clear reason.

    I wonder if the people with food- or clothing-related word aversions also have more food or clothing-related sensory defensiveness. Most of mine are food-related (including the word "food," itself!), and I have severe taste/food texture defensiveness.

    "Moist" doesn't bother me at all, though. *shrug* I actually think it sounds kind of cute.

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