MUMMIFICATION. MUMM-I-FI-KAY-SHUN. MMMMUMM… IFICATION.
As my fifth grade substitute teacher read aloud a passage about ancient Egyptian traditions, she was suddenly enthralled by the word Mummification. What a beautiful word! All the ways one must manipulate the lips for each part of the word! She mapped out the syllables, each sound, tasting, listening. She repeated the word, had the class pronounce the word, we said the word together. Mummification.
Here, I introduce the obscure logophile: one who loves words. My middle school substitute is not alone in her affair. For example, Nabokov famously had an obsession with words. My favourite line of Lolita is still mesmerizing. “Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta” (Nabokov, 1).
For longer than I’d like to admit, I followed the movements of my tongue and lips as I mouthed the name too. Lolita, Lo-lee-ta. Literarily speaking, this sentence is genius. Within the first page of the book, any reader who felt the urge to say the girl’s name is already in the shoes of Humbert Humbert and as a result must share some of the protagonist’s guilt. But it also perfectly demonstrates his ear for beautiful words.
Herman Melville was also in love with words,
“…under a blue tranquil sky; the ship under indolent sail, and gliding so serenely along; as I bathed my hands among those soft, gentle globules of infiltrated tissues, wove almost within the hour; as they richly broke to my fingers, discharged all their opulence, like fully ripe grapes their wine; as I snuffed up that uncontaminated aroma, – literally and truly, like the smell of spring violets; I declare to you, that for the time I lived in a musky meadow” (Melville, chapter 94).
Why is this paragraph so enamouring? Tranquil, indolent, serenely, bathed, soft, gentle, globules, infiltrated, tissue, wove, richly, discharged, opulence, ripe, snuffed, aroma, violets, musky, and meadow is why.
For the reader’s convenience, I’ve compiled a very short list in order to determine whether you too have an inclination towards the euphonic. If any of the following words inspires a feeling of immense pleasure, if you find yourself saying any of these words in a hushed tone upon reading, or if a few hours from now you mouth a word on your way home on the subway – you, dear reader may very well be a logophile.
Kumquat, plunge, flesh, plum, lullaby, flamingo, murmuring, marmalade, ooze, bruise, memory, pulp, jugular, whimsical, sponge, squish, tranquil, nonchalant, almond, lanolin, tambourine, moonbeam, eggplant, solitude.