Sticks and Stones

“No, thank you. If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?”

There’s not much point in trying to ban words. Certainly, there are some words that represent ugly concepts, but banning the word wouldn’t abolish the ugliness represented by the sound, or its look on the page. Forbidding the utterance or publication of the word ‘war’, for example, wouldn’t end conflict, however much one could wish that it might.

It has to be said, though, that regardless of the concept they represent, some words sound more attractive than others. As a logophile (look it up, it’s not as unpleasant as it sounds), I do like words from an aesthetic point of view, in the sense of the pleasing sounds they can make, especially in combination.

I believe that’s called poetry.

Beautiful words can raise the mundane to a higher level. Thus, there’s an Italian newspaper called ‘Corriere della Serra’. Just say that to yourself a couple of times (trying with some kind of Italian accent might help). It’s lovely isn’t it?

Now say the English translation: ‘Evening Courier’.


Or what about this, from Keats’ ‘Ode to a Nightingale:’

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool’d a long age in the deep-delvèd earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country-green,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South! 
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stainèd mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, 

Alternatively, ‘I could murder a glass of plonk.’

Not the same, really.

So there would be no point in trying to ban ugly words and no reason to wish to ban beautiful ones. However, out of deference to this latest of ‘365 Days of Writing Prompts’, here are a few words that I wouldn’t be sorry never to hear again:

  • Tax
  • Work
  • Piers Morgan

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