21 March 2011

Strange Bedfellows?

Words (again).

Does anyone know how Man comes to make the extraordinary sounds he does? Line by line, precept by precept, generation by nameless generation - until at length the right word resounds clear, bell-like, as if from out of some inmost corridor of one's own soul . . .

Who can be sure, then, that the majority of our everyday household words merely say what they mean, and don't also sound like what they mean? That the sound of a well-chosen word rarely if ever helps to situate, to anchor and fasten down, that word's meaning? That our simplest, most time-honed and time-hallowed words have little or nothing in them of the deliberately onomatopoeic? Or that both the meanings and the sounds of many of our best words haven't got myriad criss-crossing, multi-layered, multi-sedimented relationships with other words, of similar sound?

Take a moment to listen to the following sounds. Try to hear the music, the mystery - and yes, the overlapping, interlacing meanings - enwoven into the rhymes of such familiar words as loud, crowd, proud, shroud. And then tell me if you can think of better, more grating, more relentless sounds for any of those things. Or words that reinforce more powerfully the kinship of those particular things with each other . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment