Aesthetics of phonetics and more

Posted: March 27, 2013 in Personal
Tags: , , ,

I am a fan of words. It’s not a love that blossomed when I first read Shakespeare, as far as I know. I didn’t rhapsodise over Dr Seuss as a young kid and immediately tell myself I must gorge on books in order to fulfil the craving for a new and exciting word or two. I didn’t really know what I liked about reading and writing, other than it thrilled me in a strange way. I assumed it was being able to create and manipulate new territories and scenarios, fantastical villains and invincible heroes, to picture their travails and conquests in my mind as they progressed: to live vicariously through them. Of course, that was the obvious rapture, but not the whole story.

It became more evident when I absorbed great poetry. It wasn’t primarily the narrative action, but the effect of the words on the page that I derived pleasure from. On a base level, I enjoyed the phonetic aesthetics of how the words sounded to me read aloud; I relished the manipulation of tongue and teeth as you shaped your mouth like a musical instrument, but also the evocative nature of said words; their rich symbolism and inferences. How each word reacted to the words around them was also important, as if they were atoms crashing against each other with varying levels of force. Sometimes the sentences would become liquids, or gaseous, or rigidly solid, and sometimes something in between: a righteous hybrid like the T-1000 or something.

In this spirit, I thought I’d share with you a few of my favourite words, in no particular order which I like to deploy, or hurl, or roll around my mouth and spit furiously:

Disingenuous                  Sacrosanct
Idiolect                             Cavalcade
Paraquat                           Skullduggery
Polyglot                            Mountebank
Eviscerate                        Racketeering
Brackish                            Truculent
Ephemeral                       Recalcitrant
Invective                         Festoon
Pusillanimous                Cursory
Syntax                               Archipelago
Haberdashery                Sinew
Tontine                             Gristle
Phalanx                             Balustrade
Inexorable                       Bull
Synecdoche                     Moribund
Parapraxis                       Enraptured
Genuflect                          Timbre
Scabrous                           Venerable
Expunge                            Beleaguered
Dismantle                         Paroxysm

Perhaps I might attempt a short story incorporating all of these nuggets now.

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Comments
  1. Martin Bolland says:

    With your love of language and your grasp of neoliberalism, perhaps you could help to counter-act the language of the right. Because that is what they do in their numerous and well-funded think tanks: they marketize seemingly unmarketable political strategies. Under Bush II tax ‘cuts’ were sold as tax ‘relief’ – brilliant, and somebody wrote a book about it. We need an expression, a slogan for what you mentioned in another article – the minimum percentage of the population that has to be unemployed in order for neoliberalism to function. I reckon it is between 6 and 7%. While the left waffles along in its intellectuality, the right present seemingly simple, easy to digest concepts. Now the think tanks are working hard on how to market even more cuts to welfare. We should be prepared to preempt them (I like that word).

    • Couldn’t agree more. You’ll notice how i’m fond of pretty simplistic analogies to try and convey messages, because i also see how the right gets their messages across.
      Play on people’s fears and prejudices, goad reactionaries, find any positive words from a festering pool of negativity to obfuscate a policy’s true purpose, preferably with a dose of scapegoating thrown in.
      Another tactic i often note is making grey situations black and white: George W’s immortal phrase: “You’re either with us or with the terrorists” encapsulates this tactic perfectly, and appeals to people who don’t wish to understand the vagaries and complexities of destructive policies: they want to be partisan. They want to call activists ‘dirty Commies’ or ‘welfare-dependents’, despite the fact that their ultimate enemy is actually identical, and screwing them both: shooting them in the back and throwing the gun between them; blaming each of them for shooting the other.

      Perhaps the concept of full employment is the easiest to communicate?

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