Thursday, October 4, 2007

Favorite Words

I took History of the English Language my junior year at UW-Stevens Point. Professor Leon Lewis from Boston taught the class. Between the Bostonian accent and his sense of humor, the course was thoroughly enjoyable.
One day he commented on his favorite words or phrases. “Cellar door” was a favorite phrase of his. “Cellar door” does nothing for me, not even with a Bostonian accent, but to each his own. I like “loquacious”, “ostentatious”, “squiggly”, and “kumquat.” The first two take a long time rolling off the tongue and can be drawn out and enjoyed; the second two are just cute.
Certain countries have great names. Mesopotamia (one almost has to concentrate to get it right) and Persia sound exotic and should have never been changed to Iraq and Iran. While I don’t profess to know the politics of those countries when they had beautiful names, maybe they were in a better state of affairs than they are at present with their short, snippet of names.
Lichtenstein, Fiji, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe are fun to say and since those countries are far from America one can say their names and sound very international while, with typical American ignorance, know little to nothing about the country itself. I have been to Lichtenstein and what I remember is they have beautiful stamps and their political candidates are only allowed to campaign for one day. Neat name, neat solution to political campaigning.
When teaching 7th graders I would often ask them to write down their favorite word or words and then post them on the bulletin board. One boy wrote “lollipop” as his favorite word and since that day it has been one of my favorites, too. It feels good rolling off your tongue plus is a happy word. In fact, there are two songs which use his favorite word. Shirley Temple sang “On the good ship, Lollipop” and the popular refrain in that song is:

“On the good ship Lollipop.
It’s a sweet trip to a candy shop
Where bon-bons play
On the sunny beach of Peppermint Bay.”

Complete lyrics can be found at
The Chordettes recorded the “Lollipop Song” in 1958 with the hard to forget refrain of
“Lollipop lollipop

Oh lolli lolli lolli
Lollipop lollipop.....”

Complete lyrics to be found at At this website one can even download this song for a ring tone!
I don’t know that I have any favorite sounding phrases although Joe recently mentioned a seemingly popular Scottish phrase that I fancy. “Sheep shagging bastards” was frequently shouted at a soccer game Joe attended in Scotland. Alliteration does make any phrase catchy but the uniqueness of this phrase is part of the appeal. I haven’t found a way to work this phrase into casual conversation but am trying.