Wednesday, February 16, 2005

bad words (that aren´t)

You know how there are some words in English that, while having a completely inoccuous meaning themselves, are still words you hate to say just because they sound gross? Usually this is because they sound very similar to another word that does have an ugly meaning. For example, the word niggardly is certainly legitimate in its own right, yet it sounds so much like another, really horrible word that no one ever wants to use it.

For me, there are certain words in Spanish that cause the same problem, in this case because they sound too much like words in English that have an embarassing or awkward meaning. Labios, the Spanish word for ‘lips’ is one such word. It just kind of creeps me out when I’m sitting in a restaurant or riding on the bus and I hear the radio blaring a song in which a woman singer implores her sweetie to plant a kiss on her labios. And if hearing the word is disconcerting, saying it is downright impossible. I had a special girl friend for a time here in Queretaro who I thought had really beautiful lips, but I could never bring myself to tell her so because of my discomfort with the word. I just would have felt like a total cad telling her: “you’ve got the most fantastic labios and I could just sit and stare at them for hours.” I’m sure she wouldn’t have slapped me for saying so, but I still would have wanted to wash my mouth out with soap afterwards.

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