04 / 2016
Категорії: English language
What’s the most beautiful word in the English language? Different people, using various criteria, will give a slew of answers.
Surveying more than 7,000 English speakers in 46 countries, the British Council decided on mother — an unglamorous word, yet one that conveys comfort and the deepness of human relationships. Others on their list include concepts, like “liberty” and “tranquility,” or expressions, as in “smile.”
While you might consider these words beautiful without knowing what they mean, linguist David Crystal says it is impossible to separate sounds entirely from their meaning. Words with positive connotations, like birds and flowers, naturally make us happy, while darker words, like “peril,” instill less positive feelings.
But even Crystal can’t deny some patterns appear based just on sound; humans simply find some sounds more pleasing than others. By analyzing the consonant and vowel sounds that appear in language the most and least frequently, Crystal created certain criteria that compose the most beautiful words.
For example, the word “tremulous” fits every category. The word contains more than three syllables, with the stress on the first. It uses “m” and “l” — letters we seem to enjoy pronouncing. It uses other consonants that appear in English with high frequency but eliminates those with low frequency. It also uses only short vowels, articulated in a mid or low position, in the front of the mouth.
The chart also gives examples of other nice words.