Literally, the Most Beautiful Sounding Word on the Planet Happens to Be In English: LOVE
As a linguist speaking several foreign languages I’m captivated by language and the sounds each language produces as much as I enjoy studying the etymology of words (the origin of a word and the historical development of its meaning). There is one word that I believe is the most beautiful word of all words on the planet not just for what it means but also for its actual sound on the tongue and in voice. Though I have searched around the world’s languages for a rival for this word, I cannot find one. I may be prejudiced but the word I am talking about is LOVE.
Say the word love and feel its softness. The first sound of l is called liquid in phonetics. Like a river the l carries the resonant sounds in the syllable called love. Phonetics also calls the l sound sonorant meaning in this case and in layman’s terms that it is effortless to utter.
Next we come to the vowel sound which requires little energy to produce. The sound of o in love becomes a sound more like the short vowel sound of u and reminds me of the opening sound of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet – aleph. Aleph is the primordial letter, the letter from which all others come. In fact, the first syllable sound of aleph in Hebrew can barely be uttered it is so sacred. Interestingly, all three sounds in aleph are similar to those contained in the word love. Aleph symbolizes the wind or air or breath and you can feel these in the vowel sound of o as it is articulated in love.
And finally, the velvety ending sound of v is smooth and gentle with breath behind it.
Put them all together and what could be a more beautiful sounding word?
The germanic English language does not have the best reputation for sounding beautiful. We usually give that honor to the romance languages like French, Italian and Spanish. I have looked among other germanic languages and languages from other descendencies but still their words for this one word love are shrill or hard sounding. I apologize for saying this to all the people who will read this from other parts of the world. I mean no offense whatsoever. I love world cultures and languages. Please hear that. But here we have this one standout word in English that is exquisitely beautiful. Not only that, it is the most important word in this or any other language.
In etymology, the word love is a descendant of Old High German, Old Norse, and Old Saxon words to name a few. Original meanings include not just love, romance and the affection of friendship, but joy and praise. And it is true that when we have love and feel love we have joy. We are so happy we praise just about everything we encounter!
We must take this precious glorious word and make it more than a word in our lives, a word we barely understand. The emotion of love has been bastardized among many, unappreciated, unrevered and largely unexplored. We may think we have dived deep into love but we have oh so far to go to know it truly.
We might begin with feeling and appreciating the way love sounds on the tongue and on our lips as our teeth touch our lower lips. The word LOVE itself is a portal to understanding the depths, the power, and the sweetness of it.