What is your favorite word?

Sep 9, 2011

I have a kind of love affair with words. Obviously. I'm a writer, aren't I? My husband teases me sometimes when I use a word he doesn't know, or just one that isn't commonly used in conversation. I love learning new words, and along with that, I love learning languages. Here are my favorite words in all the languages I know (or have attempted to learn):

ENGLISH
Spelunking: the exploration of caves

This word just feels cool on the tongue. Plus, I have gone spelunking several times, and there is something amazing, creepy, and just plain adventurous about being buried in a mountain/underground.
Spelunking with the hubs and some friends.

FRENCH
Lavabo: sink

I took French all through high school, and had nearly enough classes in college for a French minor. Sadly, my French skills have dwindled quite a bit in the four years since I last took a class, but I still love the way ANYTHING sounds gorgeous in French. This words is one of the earliest in my vocabulary, and is still a favorite.
Not in France. (San Francisco-- a tale I shall have to tell sometime)

FANTE
Ketseketse: small-small/very small

I took lessons in this Ghanaian language from an amazing teacher. Even though many people in Ghana speak English, it helped so much to know Fante, especially in teaching. The kids also loved it when I read Fante-- it's very simple to pronounce all the words, but most of the time I had no idea what I was saying. I love this word because it's just fun to say (kitsee-kitsee, said very fast), and people laughed when I used it to explain how much Fante I could speak.
3 ketseketse students who fell asleep on me mid-lesson. I promise, this wasn't staged.

JAPANESE
Utsukushii: beautiful

My husband first said this word to me when we were dating (he lived in Japan for 2 years and speaks Japanese fluently). I managed to tease the meaning out of him before I attempted learning Japanese myself. It makes me smile every time.
Me and the hubs. Love.

I took two semester of Swahili in college, but I'm going to bow out of that one. I don't remember a single word except for "Jambo," hello.

So, my friends, what about you? What is your favorite word in any (or many!) language(s)?

25 comments:

Kelley said...

English: Sanguine and kismet

Spanish: biblioteca. Because I always sound like I know more Spanish than I do when I say it :)

Jenilyn Tolley said...

I love words too. One of my favorites is defenestration. It makes me laugh that we have a word for the act of throwing someone or something out of the window.

My brother, who speaks Mandarin Chinese, taught me to say "I don't understand," which is "Wo ting bu dong" and it's really fun to say.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I don't know if I have any favorite words, but I do like to say spelunking! :)
And how awesome are you? You've been on so many adventures! I'm jealous! ;)

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

I love Spanish. And there's a lovely thing the Spanish say on entering or leaving a cafe if your eyes meet. They'll say "Aproveche," which literally means "take advantage", but they say it in the sense of "Bon appetit.'

MKHutchins said...

Ch'ak, in the language of the Maya glyphs, means to chop or decapitate, and I've always liked it because it sounds like an axe thunking into something.

Jolene Perry said...

La Poubelle

Which is the trashcan, lol.

How fun :D

I have a good friend who works for the LDS church in their translation department. SO fascinating.

Amparo Ortiz said...

LOL! This is such a cool post!

My fave words change from time to time, but I'll have a go at my latest ones:

SPANISH
mofongo: it's also my favorite dish :)

ENGLISH
pomegranate: don't know why I like it, but I say it at random moments for no good reason. I should turn it into a curse word. "Pomegranate, that HURT!"

ITALIAN
brutto: it means "ugly", but In Spanish, we call dumb people "bruto" or "bruta". So yeah. In both languages, you're screwed :)

Angie said...

I don't speak too many languages. Actually--only one. One of my favorite words in English is onomatopoeia (I actually spelled it right on the first try!) Fun to say and fun to do.

I did take Italian in college. Everything in Italian is beautiful. Bellissima! (Don't know if I spelled that right.)

Shiraz Akhtar said...

What an interesting post!

Obviously, there are so many words that strike a chord with me. A couple of them are nincompoop, which sounds funny esp. when someone says it in ire, and inamorata.

You lead quite an adventurous life- makes me jealous.

Jenna St. Hilaire said...

Ooh. Great question, and fun words! Learning bits and pieces of many languages must be a writerly tendency... I did so much of this that I could never settle on one and pursue fluency.

English: magical. There are reasons why I write fantasy. :)

French: amie, friend

Russian: samalyot, airplane

Spanish: mantequilla de cacahuate, peanut butter

German: prinzchen, little prince. I used to sing it in a German lullaby.

Italian: Spiagge amate. I'm cheating and giving a phrase, which means "beloved strand" (the sea strand, that is). It's the title of one of my favorite arias.

Latin: Laetare--Rejoice!

Quenya: airelindë, holy song

Arabic: sadeek/sadeeka, friend

Hebrew: Hmm. Maybe Yoshiyahu, "supported by God" which, Anglicized, is the name of one of my characters. :) Though I also liked mayim, waters.

Jessie Humphries said...

I love French too Shallie! Another thing we have in common:) I served my mission in Paris. My favorite French word is no doubt CHOCOLAT!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Hi again, Shallie, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting, and thanks for following me. You have a point for being a new follower. If you check out my August 26th post, you still have time to get more points for my give-away contest for The Fourth Wish.

Kristine said...

I'm such a word nerd! I love this post. :) Another ESL teacher took a survey of teacher's favorite words during inservice week, and then made wordle art to post on her bulletin board. Turned out really cool!

I regularly stop people mid-sentence to tell them "Oooh! That was a good word!" Even before I became an ESL teacher. :) So, my favorite words...

English: Pristine. Because, duh, it rhymes with my name. And the association with beauty doesn't hurt.

Spanish: No manches / Neta / Chido... Really, any of the Mexican slang I've learned from my kids, because they think it's so funny when those phrases come out of my mouth!

German: Einhorn. It means unicorn! For some reason, it just strikes me as hilarious, and I like to yell it like a battle cry--einhooooorn!

I also like to learn "eeny meeny miney mo" in as many languages as possible. I currently know it in English, Liberian English, Spanish, French, German, Somali, and Kirundi!

Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

Kristine: that's pretty cool! What are the translations? I really enjoy hearing the translations of animal sounds, since no one writes them the same way. (You'd think they would, since it's the same sound.) Example: in Spanish, baby chicks say, "Pio, pio."

My favorite word in English is "passion," but I'm more of a sentence nerd than a word nerd. The most beautiful sentence ever written in any language is this sentence in French:

Viens, rien ne nous retient à rien.

It basically means, "Come, nothing can separate us." Each word ends with the same sound, and the meaning is sweet too. (It's from Le Roi de Soleil.)

Meredith said...

What great words and pictures! My favorite English word is serendipity--fun to say, and I love the meaning.

Ruth Josse said...

I love words, but I don't think I have a FAVORITE one. Quite often my husband rolls his eyes when I use a word he doesn't know or is not one he would use. Like I'm doing it on purpose! Ha.

I so wish I could speak another language. I can't even do accents.

Kristine said...

Teralyn--Translations of the eeny meeny miney moes? They really are fun, but not very translatable. I speak Spanish, but the Spanish version ("de tin marin de dos pingue...") is mostly nonsense, with a couple real words mixed in. And from what I understand, the others are basically the same. But they're very fun to collect. :)

ali cross said...

I love this post! That pic from the classroom is hysterical!

You've learned some amazing languages! I took five years of latin in high school and requisite four years of French (required in Canada). In university I took four years of Russian which I LOVED and became conversational in. And . . . yeah. I can't remember a single word :(

Then as an Opera singer, I've sung in many different languages--my favorite to sing in: French, German and Russian.

And now . . . I'm useless. Wah :(

linda said...

Omg, it's so cool that you know so many languages! I took French in high school, too, but I don't remember much of what I learned. I do speak Mandarin, though, and can understand some Taiwanese. But I'm having such a hard time thinking of favorite words at the moment. Ah well, thanks for sharing yours! :)

Ashley Nixon said...

Wow! I can't believe you took all those languages! I took Italian. I'm not very good...but I like the word chiacchiere (to chit-chat) and chiave (key), lol. They're simple, but they sound cool!

That pic with you and the kids is adorable!

RaShelle Workman said...

Fun pics! You and your hubs are adorable!!! =D

Life Unordinary said...

what a nice post.

French: A bien tot. See you later.

My sister lives in Paris and says this to me all the time. its just so nice to hear.

Melanie said...
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Lynda R Young said...

yes! Spelunking is one of those cool words I love just because of the rhythm and sound of it :)

manish homework said...
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