Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Birth Words

The Chronicle of Higher Education had a note this week about a professor of English who routinely polls his students on their selections for the most beautiful and the most ugly words in the English language. Here is their list for this year:

Beautiful


Love
serendipity
lovely
luminous
melody
beautiful
lavender
lily
eloquent
euphoric
glorious
gorgeous
grace
happy
harmony
heaven
onomatopoeia
passion

Ugly


pus
vomit
fungus
death
mucus
puke
ugly
cacophony
hate
mullet
phlegm
pimple
snot


That, of course, got me thinking. What are the ugliest and most beautiful words associated with birth? I put a few of my thoughts here but am curious to know what you think.

Beautiful


crowning
opening
areola
cowl
effleurage
ferning (what they look for on a glass slide to see if amniotic fluid is present)


Ugly


arrest
hemmorhage
rupture
prodromal
breech
section
bear (as in "bear down")
vomit
meconium
procedure
progress

9 Comments:

Blogger I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

SO cool...

...and I never knew you were "syndicated". I found this at the blog where Grand Rounds is being hosted this week before I came here!

Hh

10:37 AM  
Anonymous Julie said...

I would add to the beautiful column "birth" (the verb) and the ugly column "deliver."

And what's this about you being syndicated?

12:02 PM  
Blogger doulicia said...

I'm not syndicated that I know of. But Hannah said she saw my post on someone else's blog in the side area of syndicated sites. Perhaps someone is stealing from me? If so, I'm flattered.

Another ugly word: episiotomy.

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please take "breech" off your ugly list....one of the most beautiful births I ever attended was a breech (at home of course)

4:02 AM  
Blogger doulicia said...

Interesting point. My thought was actually words I don't like the sounds of. I agree that breech births themselves can be great. And I don't have a negative reaction to the content of the word. But I was going strictly on the sound of it.

But ths raises the issue of what is contained in a beautiful or ugly word. Is it just the sound of it, or is it the associated meaning. To me "breech" is a screechy/scratchy harsh word. Footling, by comparison, is a fun-sounding word. Yet, I think the content of a footling breech is probably much more problematic than a "frank breech," which is a completely unappealing phrase.

At any rate, I reserve the right to leave my list as is, but with the clarification that I'm trying to react to the words themselves, not in a larger context. Am I making any sense?

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Melissa said...

I've always loved "quickening."

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, and thanks for the clarification. I remember when I first learned what "breech" actually meant and have to say I like "breech" better than "butt". Vernix is another of those wierd words that in know way connotes what it actually is by the sound of its word...or does it.

12:18 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

I think these lists are more about the meaning than the sound of the words, especially the first list. Personally, I think the word pimple *sounds* kind of cute and funny. But its meaning is [shudder] ugly. And perhaps your own list is also dictated by meaning as well as sound. For example, opening? Definitely my suggestion (birthing versus delivering) was entirely about meaning and connotations. When the Fed Ex guy is delivering something, I have no problem. :)

7:20 AM  
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5:36 PM  

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