"Eloquent," "love" and "symphony"-these are just some of the words that grab students' eyeballs and ears as they find them pretty, but words like "vomit," "moist" and "puke" are a big turn off because pupils think they are ugly, revealed a new survey.
Robert E. Wolverton Sr., a Mississippi State University classics professor, surveyed some 75 students in his classes and asked them to name the most pretty and ugly in the English language.
AdvertisementThe poll is part of Wolverton's "semi-frequent" examination of how students at the university view widely used terms.
Of the 148 different "beautiful" words submitted by students this year are several listed multiple times, which are: eloquent (six), love (four) and symphony (four). Beautiful, lavender and tranquility each received three mentions.
On the other hand, of the 138 "ugly" words, the following are mentioned multiple times: vomit (six), moist (five), puke (five), phlegm (four), slaughter (four), snot (four), ugly (four), damp (three), and mucus (three).
Also, the name of a football team may make an ugly word for some, while food types have the sound of beauty.
After asking students about what makes a word either pretty or unattractive, Wolverton found that the association between words and sounds, while being pronounced often, factor into how they are considered.
Also, he noted that the same could be true of a word's language of origin, adding that many words viewed as pretty "often have Greek or Latin origins."
Generally, he noticed that short, monosyllable words were viewed as ugly, while polysyllabic words seemed to have more likeability.
In comparison previous years, in the 2009 survey, fewer students listed religious-themed words as pretty
Surprisingly, he said that "so many of our students come from small towns. "For many of them the church is the social center."
While "mellifluous" and "lullaby" were consistently considered pretty over the years, but dropped off this year's list.
However, "susurrus," which describes a soft, whispering or rustling sound, made the list for the first time.
According to Wolverton, the increasing number of iPhones and other modern communication technologies may be providing students with "greater word diversity on a regular basis."