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This morning, Jason Riggle and I were on Minnesota Public Radio's The Daily Circuit, discussing word aversion.

You can listen here:

After the show, the guy who set me up in the studio at WXPN confided that his personal horror is the word nourish. "And nourishment is just as bad", he added with a shudder.

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11 Comments »

  1. Treesong said,

    August 21, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

    I used to list words whose sounds I particularly liked, some of them bizarrely idiosyncratic, like kukuruza (Russian for 'corn') and Bolivar Shagnasty (a Red Skelton character that I know only from reading). But I've never felt any particular aversions.

    There really do seem to be a few sounds that show up oftener in aversive words, like 'oi' as in 'moist' and 'ointment' and 'ul' as in 'mulch' and 'gully'. I can't hear anything wrong with 'oi', but I can totally understand 'ul', particularly with a really dark 'l'. Bulk hulk sulk pulp bulb slumgullion. All of a sudden I feel a little queasy.

  2. Denny said,

    August 22, 2013 @ 2:37 am

    Reminds me of the "Woody and Tinny Words" sketch from Monty Python.

    [(myl) Indeed.]

  3. Faldone said,

    August 22, 2013 @ 7:48 am

    Someone on line many years ago proclaimed an aversion to the word portion. They did have a rationale for it: They associated it with the phrase "small portions" from their childhood and it always had a connotation of miserliness.

  4. John Baker said,

    August 22, 2013 @ 9:50 am

    I wonder if the aversion would extend to the personal name Nourish (it has a different pronunciation).

    It seems like it would be rough if you had a name to which people have a personal aversion. Terry Pratchett's Discworld character Moist von Lipwig comes to mind.

  5. J.W. Brewer said,

    August 22, 2013 @ 11:37 am

    I used to listen to 'XPN in its pre-NPR, pre-Bobofied days back when I was in high school in the early '80's. I'd like to think that the sort of envelope-pushing people who were willing to play e.g. "Sex Bomb" (Flipper) and "Sex Beat" (the Gun Club) late on Sunday evenings for sonically adventurous local teens who couldn't find those sounds anywhere else on the dial would not have shuddered at "nourishment."

  6. J.L.Botez said,

    August 22, 2013 @ 2:12 pm

    I have a problem with my TMJ (my jaw joint), so when it's real bad I tend to have an aversion to words with high vowels, especially rounded ones. Particularly, O, U, and I. So, instead of 'moist', I would probably say 'kinda wet' or 'damp'. Since I've been dealing with this for more than two years, it's starting to become second nature to take linguistic detours like that. I think it's not only because it hurts more to say certain words but also because when I do try to say them, they are too quiet or slurred a little, and I usually end up having to say a different word anyway, expending even more energy.
    I've noticed that LL has covered sign language in some posts, but I've never noticed any posts about how articular disabilities can affect the way people talk and are perceived. For instance, one of the callers said they disliked when people pronounced certain words the 'wrong' way, but when I heard the words he complained about, it occurred to me that most of those pronunciations would be easier for me to articulate than the 'correct' ones.

  7. David said,

    August 23, 2013 @ 4:09 am

    moisturized chicken:

    http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8178/7936452674_cfe261e595.jpg

  8. Stan said,

    August 23, 2013 @ 9:53 am

    From the OED's Twitter account today:

    Robert Burns provides our earliest recorded example of 'moistify' (to moisten: usu. humorous: to wet the lips, throat, etc. with drink).
    Our earliest recorded example of the adjective 'moistifying' is found in Frances Trollope's novel "The Widow Married' (1840).

  9. J L Hoover said,

    August 23, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

    I've always felt that the word "limpid" is hard to like. But maybe just because to me it never sounded like what it means. Nabokov seems to love this word, however. Maybe he can convince me.

  10. Rube said,

    August 24, 2013 @ 8:49 am

    You know, after decades of finding "moist" to be a pleasant word, I think I may be starting to develop an aversion to it, just from being exposed to the aversion so much on this blog.

  11. Mae said,

    August 27, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

    I never found "moist" so bad before reading all the word aversion posts, but I've tried to condition myself to understand the feeling they foist on sufferers. Other OY words help: groin, goiter, noisome, oily, poison, spoiled, soiled, and voided, for example.

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