Thursday, November 01, 2007

Inner-Resting Liberries

Two words which I dislike, for no deep reason at all. To use "inner-resting" for "interesting" and "liberries" for "libraries" gives me those "fingernails-against-blackboard" shivers. But otherwise I have no special words which I hate, in any language. There are some which are cumbersome to say, true. Try "keskuksiksi", which means "into the centers". But hate or even slight aversion? No.

Hence I found a story on Broadsheet about the general dislike of the word "moist" odd:

Moist. Does it get your panties in a twist? Inspire a cornucopia of unpleasant feelings? Give you goose pimples? Does my very line of questioning strike you as repugnant?

As someone who has long enjoyed torturing my brother by describing chocolate cakes as deliciously moist and fudgy (another one of his retch-inducing words), I never considered that lexical disgust might divide along gender lines. I'd always imagined that it was an individual idiosyncrasy -- the full manifestation of my brother's highly developed disgust response. But according to the word-spotters at Language Log, not only is there a widespread aversion to the word "moist" (and a host of other nontaboo words like panties, cornucopia and goose pimples), but word aversion seems to be more prevalent among women.

The post goes on to quote Language Log on this topic, and though the discussion there suggests that women are more likely to dislike the word "moist" than men I should warn you that none of the anecdotes presented actually proves that hypothesis. We probably need a real study on that vile word if we want to understand the phenomenon better. Of course money is first needed for many more important studies so we will most likely never know what's going on with moist. Hoist on your own moist petard? Did that upset you?

Amanda at Pandagon speculates about some possible reasons why "moist" would provoke a more negative reaction from women than from men. I'm not sure if we are ready to go there yet, but it's certainly interesting (inner-resting) that "panties" are so often mentioned in the same context. No, not sneakily hinting at female sexual readiness signs here. A more likely candidate is menstruation, actually.