Word of the Day…with a twist

This tweet leads to the news that tonight’s Q broadcast will contain a feature about the most hated words in your language.

Oxford Dictionaries have launched a campaign to find English speakers least favourite word. The campaign, One Word Map, tallies each country’s least favourite words and also breaks down the results by age and gender.

I’m curious. (Oh yeah, there’s also a feature about the original ingredients for Kentucky Fried Chicken.)


2 responses to Word of the Day…with a twist

  1. mikeschultz – Author

    Three days later, Oxford Dictionaries posted this brief note on their web site—Update: We regret to inform users that due to severe misuse we have had to remove this feature from our website.

  2. mikeschultz – Author

    But here’s a related post from Lifehacker

    The Science of “Word Aversion,” or Why We Hate Words Like “Moist”

    I don’t particularly have a problem with the word “moist,” but I know people who do. And you likely do too, as Scientific American notes. Around 20% of people equate “moist” to an almost nails-on-the-chalkboard feeling, according to a report by psychologists at Oberlin College (PDF). But why do people have such an aversion to certain words? Why does “moist” make people cringe? They pose one potential explanation in the paper that makes a lot of sense:

    A separate possible explanation not tested in the current studies, but which the author acknowledges, is rooted in the facial feedback hypothesis. This hypothesis suggests that facial movement can influence emotional experience. In other words, if facial muscles are forced to configure in ways that match particular emotional expressions, then that may be enough to actually elicit the experience of the emotion. On this explanation, saying the word “moist” might require the activation of facial muscles involved in the prototypical disgust expression, and therefore trigger the experience of the emotion. This could explain the visceral response of “yuck” people get when they think of the word. Separate research has identified the particular facial muscles involved in the experience and expression of disgust, but no research as of yet has tested whether the same muscles are required when saying “moist.”

    Of course, this isn’t the only possible factor. It could also be, more simply, that the word is associated with bodily functions that people consider gross or too personal for discussion, so it elicits a visceral reaction—but of course, that explanation doesn’t have to be enough, and it could be several things at once. Check out the whole piece at Scientific American for more, and if you’re one of those folks who doesn’t care for the word, well, get ready. [via Scientific American, thanks Boing Boing!]

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