One's destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things. -Henry Miller

The Most Beautiful English Word?

So, I’m sort of in love with Spanish. And languages in general…how language reveals things about a culture…what there are words for, and what there aren’t words for, and how many words there are for the same thing. This year has been the equivilent of about 5 years of Spanish class (or more) for me. I knew close to nothing upon arrival, and after flipping out about how inept I was, I started to calm down and to listen to what people were saying. And then, all of the sudden, I was understanding. It’s brilliant how immersion can do that to a person.

I’ve started to thirst for more. I was at a trivia night the other day, and met some people from Italy and France. I can’t speak Italian, or French, so all three of us were communicating in our second language, Spanish.  One of them asked me, in the most matter-of-fact way, “Don’t you want to learn a third language?” As if being “bilingual” (I put this in quotes because I still wouldn’t consider myself fluent) was some sub-par thing.  I didn’t know how to answer. Why DON’T I want to learn a third language? Italian could be nice. And it’s quite similar to Spanish. Perhaps I’ll work on that next. However, Europeans really do have an unfair advantage. They are surrounded by a plethora of native speakers of several different languages.  In Spain alone, there are four different languages. Castellano (“Spanish”); Catalan, which is a combination of French and Spanish; Gallego, which is a combination of Portuguese and Spanish, and Euskera, which is totally unique and difficult to learn.

There are some Spanish words that I find really fun to say, and have therefore, declared them my favorites:

1. Frugoneta- Meaning van. Yes, like the mode of transport. It just sounds really pretty, though.

2. Chiquitina- Meaning little. It rolls of your tongue, I promise you.

3. This isn’t a favorite but…the verb for “to give birth” is “dar a luz” which literally translated, means “to give to the light.” I think it’s quite similar in Italian as well. How gorgeous is that?

In addition to learning about Spanish, I have had a chance to learn about my own native language, by teaching it. I have never thought of many English words as pretty. But the other day, in a conversation hour with one of my private tutoring clients, I said a word, and my student exclaimed, “How beautiful!”  Want to know what the word was?

Understandable.

I guess it’s beautiful? Is English beautiful? Do you have a favorite English word?

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11 responses

  1. I like the words that my students can’t pronounce. LOL. Because I’m mean. Just kidding, but I like the fact that there are certain words that, as a non-native speaker, you really have to practice in order to get it to sound right. Words like reschedule and negotiations. 🙂

    Tonight I realized that “nevertheless” both looks and sounds really beautiful!

    March 24, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    • Annie Blewett

      Haha, I relish in those “un-prouncibles” also 🙂 And you’re right..”nevertheless” is a really pretty word!!

      March 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm

  2. Aw I love your Spanish words!
    My favorite French words are Gare routière (Bus station) and my least favorite is Méditerranéenne (Mediterranean) <– too may syllables… hard to pronounce… at lease quickly.

    As for English, I don't think I have a particular word that I love but more I love the simplicity of getting a point across. I find in French it takes more words and a more complicated structure to sometimes to reach an objective.

    I'm going to appreciate understandable a little bit more now!

    March 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    • Annie Blewett

      Haha, I love how “bus station” and “van” are our favorites. 🙂

      March 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm

  3. Speaking of the Spanish word luz, I’ve been discussing it and related words for the past few days, beginning at http://wordconnections.wordpress.com/2011/03/21/luna/

    March 24, 2011 at 10:23 pm

  4. I started listing a few of my words, and then realized I have a lot of words I love saying.

    Beauteous, resplendent, fictitious, vicissitude, puddle, to name a few…

    English is a remarkable language. I wish we could hear it through the ears of a non-Anglophone, if just once.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:02 am

    • Annie Blewett

      Yea, I wish too! Those are all really pretty words. Especially respledent. Although, I can’t say I use it very often.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm

  5. Peter wrote: “I wish we could hear [English] through the ears of a non-Anglophone, if just once.”

    There is a phenomenon in which that wish is granted, if only briefly and for a single word. You can read about it at:

    http://walkinthewords.blogspot.com/2011/03/opposite-of-tip-of-tongue.html

    March 25, 2011 at 11:20 am

    • Annie Blewett

      Interesting! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      March 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm

  6. Congruent. Best. Word. Ever.

    March 25, 2011 at 1:37 pm

  7. Kait

    Annie! This made me so incredibly happy! I’m so glad you’ve fallen in love with language! I definitely get it 😉

    My favorite word to say in Spanish is insaciable! Mmmm.

    Great pictures from Prague too! SOoooo jealous!

    April 25, 2011 at 10:00 am

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