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Someone else's thoughts on Phonaesthetics.

The Tolkien comment cited in the Leslie Jones biography is from his essay "English and Welsh", originally the O'Donnell Lecture given at Oxford on 21 October 1955, and reprinted in The Monsters and the Critics.

"Most English-speaking people, for instance, will admit that cellar door is 'beautiful', especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its spelling). More beautiful than, say, sky, and far more beautiful than beautiful. Well then, in Welsh for me cellar doors are extraordinarily frequent, and moving to the higher dimension, the words in which there is pleasure in the contemplation of the association of form and sense are abundant.

"The nature of this pleasure is difficult, perhaps impossible, to analyse. It cannot, of course, be discovered by structural analysis. No analysis will make one either like or dislike a language, even if it makes more precise some of the features of style that are pleasing or distasteful. The pleasure is probably felt most strongly in the study of a 'foreign' or second-learned language; but if so that may be attributed to two things: the learner meets in the other language desirable features that his own or first-learned speech has denied to him; and in any case he escapes from the dulling of usage, especially inattentive usage."

Comments

English a weird language in a way or another when it comes to some of it's terminology, well, thanks to Tolkien, he proved at least some of my thoughts right. I've never thought that "door cellar" would be ever considered a "beautiful" word
Thanks for sharing this sir!

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... is rather broad, is it not? In Tokien's case it is important to remember he created multiple languages in his works that are complex enough to allow one to communicate with them. I find the High Elven language "Quenya" to be almost ridiculously euphonic.

W. H. Snow

A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds. Percy Bysshe Shelley

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