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Word rage and word aversion on Subtitle

The latest episode of the new podcast Subtitle is about "Words we love to hate". Full disclosure: Kavita Pillay interviewed me for the program, and so you can hear my voice from time to time. More later — I'm off to Washington DC for a workshop on "Digital Cognitive and Functional Biomarkers" organized by the […]

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Word aversion science

Paul Thibodeau et al., "An Exploratory Investigation of Word Aversion", COGSCI 2014: Why do people self-report an aversion to words like “moist”? The present study represents an initial scientific exploration into the phenomenon of word aversion by investigating its prevalence and cause. We find that as many as 20% of the population equates hearing the […]

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Condensation and displacement in word aversion

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 […]

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Malady on Word Aversion in Slate

Matthew J.X. Malady, "Why Do We Hate Certain Words?", Slate 4/1/2013: The George Saunders story “Escape From Spiderhead,” included in his much praised new book Tenth of December, is not for the squeamish or the faint of heart. The sprawling, futuristic tale delves into several potentially unnerving topics: suicide, sex, psychotropic drugs. It includes graphic […]

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Word aversion and attraction in the news

Language Log readers who have been following our recent posts on word aversion and word attraction will want to check out Kristi Gustafson's article in the Albany Times Union, "Words we love, words we hate," which quotes Barbara Wallraff and me on the subject. As evidence for lexical likes and dislikes, I discuss some of […]

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Moist aversion: The twitter thread

On Twitter, @muffkin7 asks readers to "Ruin a film by inserting the word 'moist' into its title". Ruin a film by inserting the word ‘moist’ into its title. — muffkin (@muffkin7) April 27, 2020 Answers include "Gone moist with the wind", "All moist about Eve", "The good, the bad, the moist, and the ugly", "Little […]

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Moist! Chuckle! Slacks! Dollop!

Below is a guest post from Kavita Pillay, co-host of the new Subtitle podcast. Do you hate a seemingly normal word for reasons that you can't quite pinpoint? Or, are there words that you love to say out loud? If so, the Subtitle podcast (more on us below) wants to hear from you! On Nov. […]

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The mystery of "mouthfeel"

Helen Wang writes: I have a question – what's the etymology of the English word "mouthfeel"? In the last few weeks in the UK I have heard the word "mouthfeel" several times, spoken very naturally as though it's an established English word. I was surprised because I remember kǒugǎn 口感 (lit. "mouth-feel") as being "untranslatable" […]

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Peeve map abandoned

Alison Flood, "Oxford Dictionaries halts search for most disliked word after 'severe misuse'", The Guardian 8/26/2016 The #OneWordMap, an online survey soliciting readers’ least favourite words, is abandoned after site is flooded with offensive choices It was intended to be a lighthearted quest to find the least popular word in the English language, but only […]

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Word rage, discreet firearm edition

Oxford University Press has published the fourth edition of Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage. The name "Fowler" has been retained as a source of prestige, but this is really the work of editor Jeremy Butterfield (as the third edition was the work of Robert Burchfield). Butterfield has already been getting some press attention for […]

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"Not a verb" is not an argument

This morning, when I checked out the website of The Atlantic, I saw an article by Megan Garber with the headline, "Gifting Is Not a Verb": Megan has written perceptively about language before, notably in her piece from last year, "English Has a New Preposition, Because Internet," which played a large role in bringing attention […]

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Crispy curly noodle cakes

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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Grilled sexual harassment

David Craig sent in this photograph and asked "What does it really say and why doesn't it?":

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