display | more...
Ululate/undulate

Mentioned while we were discussing 'Why is magic different to prayer?' that I liked the word arcane. Jimbob agreed, and added that he liked also the words weird and erotic, and that he rarely liked someone who didn't fall into at least one of those three catagories.
Someone or something was ululating outside my window last night. It wasn't distressed, in fact there was a plaintive beauty about it. I like the word ululate. Of course at first I thought there was someone undulating outside my window, until I realised that such an event would probably be a good deal quieter. There were undulations of ululations!
Ululate is a great word, its got an onomatopoeic charm, a narrow shapelyness, and it feels good in your mouth. But 'undulate' is prettier...

Clad in her undulating pearly dress...

An ululating pearly dress would clearly have quite a different effect. Here were undulations of ululations!

(That was the first line of a Baudelaire poem, by the way; Les Fleurs Du Mal, No. 27, as rendered in the Penguin Classics Selected Poems. Unsatisfactory, ryhming translations, but they occasionally get lucky.)

What's that word for when your senses are all mixed up? They reckon Kandinsky had it, that he painted sounds. The written word is full of sensory crossovers - it looks, it sounds, it means ; words have an aesthetic of their own, not entirely connected with meaning. A character in Sartre's Nausea i seem to remember gets freaked out by the distance between the word 'fork' and the object. 'Fork' ain't nothin special. But there are good words. And bad words. A girl I know gets freaked out at the word spatula. I assure you all, to the best of my recollection I did nothing to bring this about.
Well, that's all, folks.

Undulate/ululate.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.