Monday, December 29, 2008

Mother: Most Beautiful Word in the World

Well here's my usual Christmas post...

It's a little later then usual since Christmas was last week, but better late then never.

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday!!!

Mother: Most Beautiful Word in the WORLD


Mum's the word, says the world Mother was most loved, while father was absent, Mother is the most beautiful word in the English language, according to a survey of non-English speakers.

More than 40,000 people in 102 countries were polled by the British Council to mark its 70th anniversary. Mother, passion, smile, love and eternity were the top five choices - but father did not even make it into the list of 70 words.

But some unusual choices did make the list, such as peekaboo, flabbergasted, hen night and oi.

SOME OF THE TOP WORDS 1. Mother 2. Passion 3. Smile 4. Love 5. Eternity 48. Peekaboo 50. Kangaroo 61. Oi 63. Hiccup 70. Hen night Fantastic, destiny, freedom, liberty and tranquillity rounded out the top 10.

The British Council promotes the learning of English around the world and teaches the language to more than 500,000 people each year. Chris Wade, director of communications at the council, said the most favoured choices in the list were all strong, positive words. He said: "All of us have a mother and have a reasonable idea of who that person is, it's one piece of certainty we can have and it's also a very powerful word in a variety of cultures. "But I wonder if we would have had the same result if we had done the survey in the UK." He said the list showed the diversity of the English language: "There are words denoting concepts that people aspire to, like freedom; words that sounded fun like peekaboo and others that aren't really words at all but they convey real meaning, like oi."

Other words to make the top 70 included serendipity, loquacious, kangaroo and zing. There were also words imported from other languages, such as renaissance and aqua. Presumably, a maternal kangaroo would be highly rated indeed." We'll grab anything we can take. Lots of words have been stolen over the years," Mr Wade said. " But while other languages may be reluctant to use our words, [this has provided] a real richness in the English has evolved."

He said one English word to have gained widespread usage recently was flip-flop, which came 59th in the survey. Failed US presidential candidate John Kerry was accused by the Republicans of having "flip-flopped" - or changed his stance - on a number of policy areas. "Flip-flop was used a lot during coverage of the US election. If the survey had been done a year ago it probably would not be in the list," said Mr Wade.

Michael Quinion, whose recent book Port Out, Starboard Home examines some of the quirks of the English language, said it was a very "eclectic" list. He said: "These non-English speakers certainly have wonderful English vocabularies. "There seems to be a curious mixture of the formal and the colloquial. Oi is not a word that I would've thought turned up in English manuals all that often." The list also included what Mr Quinion said was his own favourite English word - serendipity, which came 24th. "It's so mellifluous but it's such a nice concept too."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Nymon

Mother as number one I'm not surprised but what may be surprising to some is the possible reasons for some of the other words passion,love freedom is that these concepts do not exist in many of the developing cultures around the word in that they would be considered as dangerous to ones safety. A woman in Thailand does not marry for love as it can't be trusted, but given the opportunity this is an ideal that they would like to aspire to. I always enjoy finding articles that support what I have seen in my lifetime as an exoat.

But this is not what I want to ask you.

I was raised in a family where my mother abused me psychologically as well as my father and much later in life I had discovered that she had serious mental health issues right back to childhood. It went to the extent of keeping my father seperated from his family - brother, sister daughter, me until he finally couldn't keep up his Vistorian promise and had her institutionalised just 2+ years ago. My sister, uncles, aunts and myself are now closer to my father than ever before in life. My dad is 84 and the rest of us are over 50. I feel complete for the first time in my adult life, I have family. My father knew many years ago of the troubles but back in the days of the 50s and 60s he felt that the only level of protection he could offer his children was to stay in the marriage, once we had grown up it had become a habit and he is very Victorian by nature in what he consider his duty.

As a learning environment about family it certainly was not healthy and as might be expected I was clearly unprepared for the future and marriage and in particular with selecting a wife. Yes I managed to marry a woman that became unstable (to me it seemed to happen over a very short period and suddenly there were issues with alcohol, multiple sex partners, drugs ...) and she eventually walked out leaving me with 2 small girls (both adopted - 4 and 1). I had care and control orders. For the next period she only interacted with the children on a very irregular basis and I also discovered, much later, that on numerous of her visitations she would take the girls and park them with friends and collect them to return to me the following day.

I have since met and married a woman that I just cannot speak highly enough off adn in particular the way she handled the girls, she allowed them to come to her slowly and has nurtured their growth in every way, never a bad word has she spoken of my ex, but neither has she covered them from the truth except where necessary.

My wife has also maintained the relationship between my girls and myself with absolute zeal and as a result the relationship I have with my daughters is probably far closer to what you seem (along with many other women) to call 'mother'. During this time I have also been involved in an informal group of single fathers and I have finally come to the conclusion that this 'mother' instinct and connect with children is not only the domain of women - fathers do it to.

So I have to finally say that while historically I understand your statements of the children belong with the mother I can no longer agree with this statement. Children belong with both parents, but if they cannot then they may just be better off with their father than their mother. How can this choice ever be measured, how can this choice ever be legislated, how can this choice ever happen. There are some countries in the world where it is very simple, the parent who leaves the home (barring distress situations) leaves behind the children and all rights. Interestingly it IS mainly fathers that do leave but there are plenty of examples where the mother leaves and the children do fine within their society, the kids are always regretful that it happened but they get on with life. What does come into play though is the role of the extended family it fills some big voids in these situations.

I often wonder about the differences in marital practise - arranged marriage for example, where this is practised in the tradtitional societies there is huge emphasis placed on trianing both the boys and the girls about marital arts, the complete learning process of how to learn to love, but it requires dedication and faith in the process. A lot of the best marriages I now know were arranged. In the west I fear we have become too hedonistic and self-indulgent, tied to the pressures of modern life we no longer have the peace of mind to make consideration of others needs as important as it should be. We do not make any effort at training our young for marriage.

I had better finish my ramble here, as you can well read I am continually grappeling with a bunch of concepts that I hope to understand before I leave this world.