Gray marine layer covers my little space of California’s north coast this Monday afternoon, and beyond the normal fog, supposedly we’re to have some pleasant weather for the next week-to-10 days — sunshine chilled by ocean breezes.
Over the past weekend, I saw there’s this new study-paper, “A Moist Crevice for Word Aversion: In Semantics Not Sounds” (found at Plos One), which shows how we dislike the sound of certain words, like ‘Trump,’ or ‘moist,’ and motivation — via Writers Write: ‘More neurotic people also had higher word aversion scores, as did women overall. The top ten most disgusting words included moist, crevice, slacks, luggage, puke and phlegm. Several common swear words such as the f-bomb also rated as highly repulsive. Those who despise the word moist also tend to dislike the works “eww” and “yuck.”‘
(Illustration: M.C Escher’s ‘Scholastica’Â found here).
People who displayed a stronger aversion to words tended to be younger, more educated — ‘sticks and stones…’
One theory is that words such as moist are aversive because when you speak them you constrict your zygomatic muscles, which reduces blood flow in the sinus and raises the cerebral temperature.
Another theory is that when you say “moist” you are making the same facial expressions you make when you make a sound of disgust.
Future studies will put participants in a PET scanner to see what is being triggered in the brain when the disgusting words are spoken or read.
Detail-ish verbiage ad nauseam from Plos One:
One of the 29 target words was “moist”; the remaining 28 words came from 6 lexical categories, including: 1) five words that were semantically related to “moist” (damp, dank, muggy, sticky, wet); 2) three words that had similar phonological properties to “moist” (foist, hoist, rejoiced); 3) three negatively valenced words relating to bodily function (phlegm, puke, vomit); 4) four words relating to sex (buttfuck, fuck, horny, pussy); 5) four unrelated negative and taboo words (murderer, nigger, retarded, shithead); and 6) nine positively valenced words (brave, cake, delicious, gold, heaven, love, paradise, sunset, sweet).
And if you’re squeamish on the word, ‘moist‘ — ‘In all five experiments, participants were asked to speculate on the source of word aversion in a free response task. Most people identified the semantic associations between “moist” and sex as the most likely culprit.’
Maybe more than just words…