Margo's Magical Letter Page
by Margaret Magnus
all rights reserved
Big and Fast
Bamboozle: babble, Babel, bah, balderdash, ballyhoo, baloney,
bamboozle, bandy, banter, bicker, bilge, blab, blabber, blarney, blaspheme,
blather, blooper, blubber, bluff, blurb, bluster, boast, bombast, boner,
bore, bosh, bounce, brabble, brag, bull, bumble, bunk, bunkum, burble, butter,
Interfere: badger, baffle, bag, bamboozle, ban, bar, barricade, bate, bench, bend, bilk, bind, blank, blanket, blind, block, blot, bludgeon, bluff, blunt, blur, bog, boggle, bolt, bombast, boss, bother, bottle, bounce, bout, boycott, brake, breach, break, bridle, brook, brush, buck, buff, buffalo, buffer, buffet, bug, bull, bully, bulwark, bump, bundle, butt
Guile: bull, fool, guile, pull, wile wool
Fake: fake, false, farce, faze, feign, feint, fence, fib, filch, fix, flay, fleece, foil, foist, fool, forge, fox, frame, fraud, fudge; craft, graft, grift, left, shaft, shift; bluff, spoof
start with /b/, and /b/ is for 'beast' and:
Brazen: bad, balls, bantam, bawd/y, bold, brash, brass/y, bravado, brave, brawn, brazen, breast, bristle, bronco, brusque, brute
But is a baboon really more brazen than an orangutan? A bear more than a panda? A bat more than a hamster?
Large: lard, larder, large, largo, last, laurel, lead, legend,
lion, load, lode, long, loom, lord, lot, loud, lummox, lump, lush, luster,
Noble: count, crown, dean, don, fine, gent, grand, khan, man, mensch, knight, name, noble, note, prince, queen, reign, saint, throne
As for boar: boor, chore, gore, roar, sore, war... Need I say more? And a boar is a brazen /b/.
But hogs and pigs:
Puffy /p/: paunch, pig, plump, pork, port, pot, pudgy, pump
By contrast, the Big /b/ is more pervasive, and isn't so uniformly fat: ballast, bank, banner, barrel, best, better, bevy, Bible, big, bis, blanket, blow, boon, boot, both, bounty, Brahma, brisk, broad, Buddha, bulk, bumper, bushel, buxom (a favorite /b/ body part: boob, booby, bosom, breast, brisket, bust)
Often more wealthy: bacon, bail, balance, bank, bar, bargain, bear, bet, bill, bit, bleed, blow, bob, bonanza, bond, bonus, boodle, booty, bounty, bourse, brass, bread, bribe, buck, budget, bull, bullion, bunch, bundle, buy
Or burgeoning: batten, beef, best, blast, bloat, bloom, blossom, blow, boom, boost, breed, bud, build, bulge, bull, bulk, burgeon, bush, butt
Plundering /p/: pelf, pick, pig, pilfer, pillage, pinch, pirate,
pluck, plunder, poach, pocket, pogrom, purloin
Heisting /h/: harrow, harry, heist, hijack, hoard, hog, hot
Gluttonous /g/: chug, hog, pig, swig
Snag: bag, bog, brig, cog, gig, glob, glom, glue, gluten, grab, graft, grasp, grip, gripe, grope, grout, gum, hog, hug, peg, pig, rig, snag, tag
(That's a thing about these velars. They're always so grabby. The only time /b/ takes anything is 'bribe' and 'burgle'... maybe 'bring'.)
Because it's spelled with:
Charging 'ch': champ, charge, chariot, chase, chop, chug
And Speedy 'ee': beam me up!, beat it!, bee, bleed, breeze, clear out!, ease, flee, fleet, free, gear (up), grease, heat, turn to your heels, keen, lead, leak, lean, leap, leave, mean, near, peak, peel (out), reach, scream, ski, sleek, speed, spree, steam, steed, steer, streak, stream, sweep, wheel, zeal
And /t/ at the end is pretty fast too: fast, first, fleet, flight, haste, heat, jet, light, past, pert, roast, rout, scat, scoot, shoot, spit, split, sprint, swift, tilt
(Another aside which I can't resist)
Not all sounds are fast! The 'ch' above is not particularly fast.
The /d/ in 'speed', for example, does not fall in a class of fast words,
Add: add, aid, and, blend, breed, build, feed, food, load, maid, meld, mound, scend, speed (you on your way)
Drive Onward: ford, gad, goad, hound, knead, lade, pound, prod, raid, rid, ride, rod, scend, send, should, spade, speed, wade, weed, wield, wind(n)
It's the /s/ and the 'ee' in the word 'speed' which are fast. And they're fast in different ways. The /p/ in 'speed' is not so much fast as peppy. /p/ can jump to attention on very short notice, but has little stamina.
Sharp and Sneaky
wiley coyote, catty, never smile at a crocodile
hawk, jackal, shark, skunk, snake
all have that:
Sneaky, Careful and Mysterious K: cabal, cache, cage/y, care, calm, canker, case, closet, clam, clue, code, cover, coy, crack (case), craft/y, crane, craven, creep/y, crime, crook, cruel, cunning, cut/ting, curse, crypt, crystal (ball), culprit, fox, hawk, keep, key, quest, quiet, scheme, shark, skulk, strict, tact
And for the lowly creatures of /s/
fox, louse, lynx, skunk
Scum ball: beast, pest, fence, hex, minx, Satan, Saturn, satyr,
scab, scamp, scorpion, scoundrel, scum, serpent, siren, skunk, slime, snake,
Smelly: sachet, scent, sense, skunk, smell, sneeze, sniff, sniffle, stench, stink
Sneaky: pseudo, psych, sabotage, scalp, scam, scandal, scant, scheme, scourge, screw, scurvy, secret, sell, sidle, skin, skulk, skunk, slide, slink, slip, slither, sly, smuggle, snake, sneak, snooker, soak, spoof, sport, stalk, steal, stealth, stick, sting, stooge, stunt, sucker, swindle
Jaded: dodge, forge, fudge, gentile, germ, gyp, hedge, jackal, jade, jerk, Jezebel, jilt, jingo, jinni, jinx, jive, job, stooge
Both the sneaky /k/s and the jaded /J/s frequently involve deception. The /s/s aren't so much deceptive as mere scoundrels. However, the sneaky /k/s imply some kind of secret, some withheld information. The /J/ class implies rather a corruption. This is very hard to get at, because of course forgeries and snow jobs involve withheld information just as 'cruelty', 'crime' and 'cunning' involve some kind of corruption, but the way I feel it, corruption is not implicit in the /k/ words in the same way as in the /J/ words. I wouldn't want to shove such an interpretation down anyone's throat. However, I do feel a difference between these two classes, and 'secret' vs. 'jaded' is one attempt to characterize the difference.
Shrewd: charades, charlatan, chicane, schmuck, schnook, shade/y, sham, shanghai, shark, sharp, shift/y, shrewd, sure
And a trick is in /r//k/
Trick /k/: act, bilk, fake, fox, hoax, kwack, like, mock, prank,
psych, scam, skunk, take, trick
Trick /r/: bribe, craft, cross, draw, farce, forge, frame, fraud, graft, grift, prank, prowl, racket, ruse, screw, shrewd, spring, strand, straw, strip, throw, trap, trick, trip, trump
Cool: calm, class/y, clean, clear, cold, cool, couth, coy, quiet
Fast and Flashy: fast, feisty, fever, fire, flair, flash, fling, flirt, floozy, flower, fondle, fox, fresh, fuck, funk/y
Dreary: dank, dark, date/d, dead, dearth, December, dike, dim,
dingy, dive, dodo, dog, doldrums, dole, dolor, doom, dour, doxy, dowdy,
down, drab, drag, drain, draw/n, dreary, dregs, drip, drone, droop, drudge,
dry, dull, dump
Ugh: bag, bog, bug, dig, dog, drag, fig, frog, gag, hag, hog, morgue, nag, pig, plague, prig, rag, rogue, sag, scrag, shrug, slog, slug, smog, smug, thug, ugh
Stupid and Cuckoo
on burros, mules and donkeys
A burro carries the weight of that /b/: back, bag, bairn, ballast,
barbell, barge, barrow, basket, bear, boom, boost, borrow, bough, box, bra,
brace, bridge, bring, brook, brunt, bucket, bulk, bundle, burden, burro,
And that /r/: bear, chore, oar, spur, steer, stir, tour, veer
A mule is stubborn because /l/ is slow: bleep, plod, quell, slack,
sleep, slog, slop, sloth, slow, slug, stall, still
And /m/ becomes enmired: mat/ted, maze, mess, miasma, mince, mire, monk, morass, muck, muddle, muff, mum, mumps, mute
And a donkey is kind of dumb, not because its brain cells are all that different, but because the hapless creature was labeled with a /d/: daffy, daft, dark, deaf, dense, dim, dingbat, dingy, dip/py, dodo, dolt, donkey, dope, dote, dotty, drip, drivel, droll, drone, drool, dross, dub, dud, duffer, dull, dumb, dummy, dunce, dupe
Mess: mat/ted, mayhem, maze, melee, mess, miasma, mire, mix, monkey,
morass, motley, mottle, muck, muddle, muff, mush, muss
Hanky Pankey: blank, blink, bonk, bunk, crank, dunk, fink, flunk, funk, gink, gunk, hankey, junk, kink, pankey, pink, prank, punk, sink, skunk, stink, swank, wink, yank, zonk
Lead/Follow: haul, lead, line, lope, lug, lumber, lure, pull,
sham, trail, trawl, troll
Mime: form, frame, manikin, map, mask, maya, mime, mimic, mirror, mock, model, monkey
Kook: bunk, case, cuckoo, crack/ed, crank, craze, creep, cretin, crock, crap, flake, fluke, freak, funk, geek, gink, joke, junk, kaka, kink/y, klutz, kook, kwack, nark, punk, quack, quaint, queer, quirk, spook, whack/y
A baboon is a buffoon, a cartoon, a goon, a loon, a lampoon, isn't it? More so than a gorilla?
In general, an 'oo' is pretty silly: boob, crude, dupe, fool, fruitcake, blow a fuse, goofball, goon, kook, loon, outa the loop, loser, lure, spoof, stooge, swoon
What a strange bird that's in the /r/: absurd, card, corn, curve, dark, irk, lorn, lurch, lurk, mark, murk, nerve, purge, quirk, scarce, search, shirk, smirk, sort, sparse, spurn, squirm, stark, third (wheel), twerp, turn, ward, warn, warp, weird
Back Out: change, cheap, check, chicken, chide, chill, chink,
chintz, choke, chuck
Weak: lack, lank, leak, shrink, slack, weak
A dove would have been dumb as a donkey but for the /v/ which is the sound of 'live' and 'love', of both 'virtue' and 'evil', so the /d/ in this case becomes gentle: dad, daddy, dally, dance, darling, date, daughter, dear, dolce, doll, dote, dotty, dove, duck/y. The /v/ could have given it a more sinister tone, as in devil, but in the realm of sound, opposites are nearly the same.
The pigeon, on the other hand, is neither virtuous nor evil, but merely junk: bilge, drudge, sludge, smudge. In general /p//J/ is filled with second class citizens: page, pidgin, lunge, pudgy, purge, sponge. And a pigeon is one of the poopier of birds: crap, drip, drop, pass, pee, piss, pooh, poop, pour, puke
Is she really that much more possessive than a mother pigeon?
Or does she just sound that way?
Have: hand, hand/y, hanker, harem, harness, have, here, hire,
hoard, hog, hold, host
Hold: haft, halt, halter, hammock, hand, handle, hang, hansom, harbor, harness, hasp, hatch, have, heel, hedge, hem, heme, hickey, hilt, hinge, hitch, hog, hold, hollow, hook, hoop, house, huddle, hug, hunch
Fasteners: halter, handle, hank, harness, harrow, hasp, hemp, hinge, hold, hook
House: hacienda, hall, hangar, harem, haunt/s, haven, hearth, hive, hogan, hold, hole, hollow, home, host, hostel, hotel, house, hovel, hut, hutch
Hunger: hanker, hold, hone, hope, hot, hunger
Halt!: halt, hang, harpoon, haul, have, hearse, heave, hem, hijack, hock, hold, hue, hush
Hinder: hamper, hail, halter, hang, harness, harangue, hard, hard/ly, harm, heavy, hedge, helm, helmet, help, hem, herd, herring, hex, hiccup, hinder, hinge, hitch, hoarse, hobble, hold, humble, hurdle, hurt, hush
(Remember I warned you about those grabby velars?) Also applicable to /h/: hungry as a horse. Hound dog. And that /n/ really nails you down too:
Pin: boon, clinch, crunch, fend, find, gain, gin, glean, hunt, learn, mean, mine, nab, nail, nark, need, net, nip, noose, nurse, own, pan, pen, pin, scrounge, snag, snap, snare, snatch, sniff, snitch, snoop, sound, win, winch, wind
(An aside I can't resist)
Perhaps it's possible to sense here the difference between the /h/ words and the /n/ words in this class. The /h/ involves either a sort of loose belongingness (have, hold, home), or just general attachment (hook, hinge), or a hampering of motion, so that it's directed, but not completely owned. /n/ on the other hand either 'hunts' or 'nails' things down, but either way, it's aim is full control or possession. This can be hard to see just by a quick perusal, because all the other sounds besides /h/ and /n/ in these words also have their say. But look at 'have', 'here', 'hold' and even 'hog', vs. 'hand' and 'hunt'. In the former words, the ownership is tentative, temporary or illegitimate. When the /n/ comes in, the ownership becomes final and legitimate. These few words, of course, are insufficient to prove that it is the /n/ which is legitimizing the ownership, but it is. A couple hundred hours spent with /h/ and /n/ would convince you of this. So the above statement is not intended as a proof of anything, but merely as an explanation for what is going on. This 'nailing down' runs throughout /n/. Often when I want to get at the essence of a sound quickly, I look at the most basic words which contain it and which contain few other sounds: Compare 'at', 'to', with 'in' and 'on'. The /t/ points the direction, but the /n/ nails it right on the head. Feel into the difference between, 'he is by me', 'he's here' with 'he is near'. The /n/ in the latter case introduces more than just physical collocation, but a Presence that is the noetic /n/.
badger, bee, (bug), bumble
/b/ can also be a:
Bother: badger, baffle, bamboozle, barge, barrel, batter, bite, bitter, blight, blitz, bombast, bore, bother, bristle, buffalo, bug, bugaboo, bully, burn, bust, butt
The bee is busy, buzzing, bumbling.
The flea is reproduces fast: farm, father, feed, fledge, foot, form, foster, found, frame, fund
The hornet is angry: haggle, hammer, harangue, harass, harp, harpy, harrow, harry, hash, hassle, hawk, haze, heat/ed, heckle, higgle, hiss, holler, honk, hoot, hound, howl, hue; rag, rail, rake, ram, rankle, rap, rat, rate, rattle, raw, razz, rib, rile, riot, rise, rock, roil, rot, rouse, rub, rude, ruffle, rut, wriggle, writhe, wry
The louse is low, mean and despicable: black, blah, bleak, blight, blot, blue, clash, cold, fault, filth, flat, flounce, foul, glib, glitz, gloat, gloom, glop, glum, hell, ill, lack, lame, last, lazy, left, lemon, lie, litter, loco, louse, low, lurk, pill, plague, plight, pulp, schlock, skulk, slack, slag, slime, slop, slough, slow, sludge, slum, slump, slush, stale, vile
The mite is tiny: crumb, dim, dime, germ, gleam, margin, meager, mean, measly, meek, mellow, mere, mil, mild, mini, minnow, minor, minute, mite, moment, monad, moot, morsel, mote, mundane, prim, slim, small; aught, bit, bite, blunt, byte, cent, chit, dit, dot, draft, faint, gaunt, jot, just, mist, moot, mote, part, pint, point, rest, scant, short, skit, slight, soft, spot, sprite, sprout, squat, squint, stint, strait, stunt, tad, taint, taste, teeny, teensy, tender, terse, tinge, tiny, thrift, tip, tittle, toots, touch, toy, trifle, trinket, trite, twinkle, twig, twist, waist, want, whit
The spider spins a web: spat, spatter, speck, speckle, spew, spigot, spill, spit, spittle, splash, splat, splatter, splay, splotch, splutter, spot, spout, spray, spring, sprinkle, spume, spurt, sputter, squirt
And wasps are wiley and wicked.
Close: caulk, claim, clam, clamp, clap, clasp, cleat, clench,
clinch, cling, clink, clip, clog, cloister, closet, clot, clutch, couple,
quash, quell, quench, quiet
Mute: calm, clam, dumb, hem, maunder, mime, mince, monk, muffle, mum, mumble, mummy, mumps, murmur, mute, mutter
* bat, gnat, rat - Brats! Drat! But a cat is where it's
at, chat, fat, mat, scat... because a cat is cool.
* Why the Teddy bear rather than the teddy hamster? A teddy panda? - care, share, there, there
* A beaver is busier than a mouse, isn't it? A bee is busier than a fly?
* And they called the car a jaguar, because that /J/ is jazzy: jammin', jargon, jazz, jibe, jingle, jive talk
* The lamb is mild: low, lull, meek, mellow, melt, mensch, mercy, mild, modest, mouse/y, move, mull, muse, muse, music
* The lark is light: ball, clown, droll, gale, glad, glee, laugh, lift, light, lilt, limerick, smile, thrill, zeal; brisk, perk, quick, spark, spunk, wink; card, charm, chirp, corn, mirth, perk, pert, spark, sport, warm
* Maggots and magpies live in the unhappy /m//g/ combination: gaum, gimmick, glom, gloom, glum, grim, grimace, grime, grumble, gum, morgue, mug, muggy, smog, smug, smuggle
* Mammoth: maelstrom, main, major, make, mammoth, many, marathon, mark, marvel, mass, master, matter, mature, maxi, mayhem, meat, mecca, medal, melee, mellow, mile, mint, miser, mob, model, molto, moment, money, monger, monster, more, most, mound, mount, mountain, much, mushroom, must, myriad, ream, swarm, swim, teem, tome
* Maverick combines /v/, /m/ and /r/: margin, move, ravel, ramble, roam, rove, vary, veer
* Quiet as mouse: maunder, mime, mince, monk, muffle, mum, mumble, mummy, mumps, murmur, mute, mutter, rest, peace, (silent), soft, still
* A parrot copies: pair, par, peer, per, portrait, portray, spare
* Poodle: pedigree, pride, proud, prude
* A rabbit is fast: race, raid, rain, ramble, range, ravel, reach, rip, roam, rocket, rollick, romp, rove, run, rush
* The rotten roach, raven, rodent, rook and rat: bear, boar, brat, brute, churl, horde, orc, crook, rabble, rake, rascal, rat, ring, riot, rip, roach, rogue, rot, roué, rout, rowdy, rubble, shark, shrew, tramp, troll, wretch
* The sting of the scorpion, spider, wasp: serve, slam, slap, slaughter, slay, slice, sling, slog, slug, smack, smash, smite, smush, snap, snipe, soccer, sock, spank, spar, spear, spike, squash, squelch, squish, stab, stamp, step, stick, stake, sting, stomp, stone, strap, strike, stroke, stub, stun, swat, sweep, swipe
* Sheep are sheltered more than cows (keep the sheep): chaperon, shelter, shepherd, sheriff, shield, shut
* A shrewish woman: charlatan, schlep, schlimazel, schmuck, schnook, shark, shiksa, shit, shoo, shout, shriek, shrew, shrill, shrew
* Shrimp: short, shrimp, shrink, shrivel
* The slow /sl/, sloth, slug, snail: settle, slack, slake, sleep, slog, slop, sloth, sloven, slow, slug, slump, snail, sneak, stall, steal, stealth
* Turkeys and squirrels are relative newcomers, but their sound comes from: bird, churl, dirt, germ, irk, jerk, lurch, murk, scourge, scurvy, serpent, shirk, slur, smirch, smirk, spurn, squirm, squirt, turn, twerp, vermin, vulture, worm
* Stork to start: scratch, set, slate, spout, sprout, spurt, stage, stake, start, startle, stir, strike....
* The swan! is suave: soiree, suave, suede, suite, swagger, swank, sway, sweep, swim... and noble like the lion
* Put a tiger in your tank!: growl, grumble, grunt, tartar, terror, titan, trigger, troll, tycoon, tyrant
* Tortoise, turtle: starch, stare, starve, store, sturdy, tarry
* Wasp, weasel, wolf, worm: wanton, weasel, wench, witch
* Whale: wad, ware, water, wave, wax, way, weal, wealth, weight, well, whale, whopper, wicked, wide, wild, wonder, work, world, worth
by John Robert (Háj) Ross
This note is dedicated to Emmon Bach,
~ who first noticed that almost all languages
make up their own word for this beautiful creation.
Below are the words in forty-two languages spoken on several of the worlds continents
Now the Chinese have a different idea about the animals altogether. I asked the waitress, Ping, at dinner last night to translate the names of the animals for me. (The constraints of the Web rarely allow me to mark the tone.):
Pig: Gallant and noble? Friends will remain at your side? Pronouned
Dog: Generous and loyal? The ability to work well with others? Pronounced 'gou'.
Rooster: Seeking wisdom and truth? A pioneering spirit? Pronounced 'gong ji'.
Monkey: Persuasive and intelligent? Strive to excel? Pronouned 'hou tsi'.
Goat: Aesthetic and stylish?????? Enjoy being a private person? Pronouned 'yáng'.
Horse: Physically attractive and popular, likes the company of others? Pronouned 'ma'.
Rat: Ambitious and sincere? Can be generous with your financial resources? Pronouned 'syu'.
Buffalo: A leader. Bright and cheerful? Pronouned 'niú'.
Tiger: Forthright and sensitive? Possesses great courage. Pronouned 'hú'.
Rabbit: Talented and affectionate. A seeker of tranquility? Pronouned 'tu'.
Dragon: Robust and passionate? Life filled with complexity? Pronouned 'lóng'.
Snake: Strong willed, intense. Displays great wisdom... Hey! Just like English for once! But then, it's pronounced 'syé'.
Margo's Magical Letter Page