The word name game

Today I was ruminating on a theory discussed by neuroscientist VS Ramachandran about the nature of words. His not particularly original theory is that objects or concepts are labeled with words whose sound matches their character. For example, “kill” has a harsh “kay” sound, and it is a harsh action. “Snooze” has a pleasant, soft sound, and is a pleasant act.

You see this kind of relationship quite often in the naming of alien races in science fiction stories. Who are the harsh, fascist villains in Star Trek? The Klingons, and “Klingon” has that harsh “kay” sound again. The Vulcans, however, are less threatening and thus have a softer “Vee” sound.

This got me thinking about the fuzzy, likable Ewoks from the Star Wars movies. Their name would seem to be in violation of this rule, because “wok” is kind of jarring. But then again, it’s actually in character with Ewok nature — they are fuzzy, but also tribal and warriors. I would argue the “e” sound and the “w” sound in their name denotes their plush furryness, whereas the final “k” speaks to their warlike nature.

This is the kind of thing I think about all day.

3 Responses to “The word name game”


  1. John Saleeby

    Here’s something to think about – Your Life and the sound of the word “Doofus”.

  2. Wil

    Well, it’s really true that the “oo” and the “f” sound in doofus are soft and nonthreatening which is in character with the word.

    Soft… nonthreatening… benign…

    Kind of like your penis, John.

  3. John Saleeby

    Well, as far as you go – Yeah!

    I’m listening to the first Queen album and a later Queen favorite “News Of The World” on my lap top. I somehow fucked up so the it plays the first song on “Queen” and then the first song of “News”, then the second song on “Queen and then the second song on “News”, and on and one . . . And it sounds really GREAT!

    And for Lunch – Nachos! Hey, why not?

    Holly from “Land Of The Lost” grew up REALLY UGLY!!!