Mother's the word
Thursday November 25, 2004
Think about the word mother: does it make you burst into a fantastic smile as you think of the woman you will love with a passion for all eternity, she who guides your destiny towards freedom, liberty and perhaps tranquility?
If your answer is yes, you will have embraced your mum and the 10 English words that came top in a survey of favourites conducted by the British Council.
You may, on the other hand, reply: "Oi! I am flabbergasted that such a loquacious, hilarious and far from gorgeous explosion of nouns and adjectives should have been plucked from serendipity under the umbrella of so cosmopolitan and sophisticated an organisation." In which case, you will have clocked up 10 more words from the list of 70 gathered to mark the council's 70th birthday. You can use up eight more by pulling on your flip-flop, reaching for your coconut and riding with a giggle over the rainbow on your cute kangaroo to your hen night before you turn into a pumpkin.
The wordlist, which contains only one verb (cherish) which is not also a noun, emerged after the council asked more than 7,000 learners in 46 countries what they considered the most beautiful words in English language. Some 35,000 other people registered their favourites in an online poll run in the non-English speaking countries where the council operates.
"It's interesting that mother, the only word of the 70 that describes a direct relationship between people, came top of the poll," said Greg Selby, the council's communications and marketing officer, who managed the project.
The magnificent 70
70 Hen night http://books.guardian.co.uk/news/articles/0