I have always hated the sound of the word
Jehovah, and I’ve never been a JW, never been in a Kingdom Hall or been
personally affected by the JW religion.
Reading through the above posts so far, and
focusing on just posters that don’t like the word Jehovah, people seem to fall
into three categories…..
1. Some dislike the word just because of
what it is associated with and the bad memories.
2. Some dislike it mainly because of the actual
physical sound of the word itself.
3. Some dislike it for both
reasons 1 and 2 which have become inextricably intertwined in their brain.
People who are not particularly interested in
language probably react to Cofty’s question in a completely different way than those
who enjoy words for their own sake.
We mostly all know which type we are…. If poetry
leaves you cold, you have no interest in etymology and think literature is a
waste of time, that’s fine, you will be in the first category.
You probably think those of us in the
second category that can happily spend an afternoon reading a dictionary or
thesaurus, or wax lyrical over Shakespeare or Tennyson are mad.
My husband has no concept of what I am
talking about when I say a word is beautiful or ugly. To him words are just
utilitarian collections of letters and allow him to communicate, they have no
other value. (He’s great at maths though!)
For me, the word Jehovah doesn’t have deep connotations
or bad memories and I haven't been conditioned into looking at it in a certain
way. It doesn’t even create a particular
image in my head like the word ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’ does. Neither do I have a problem with the way it
looks when written on a page.
But I intensely dislike the sound as I say
it or when I hear it spoken by someone else.
It’s bad enough when said by an American or
Australian, but for me it’s particularly bad when pronounced by someone with a ‘cut
glass’, upper class English accent. (I'm English.)
The reason I don’t like the sound is very
personal. Others may feel the opposite.
For me, Jehovah doesn’t roll of the tongue smoothly.
For a start, the sound ‘Jee’ or ‘Jeh’ involves effort. Depending on your accent and how fast you
speak, the lips form either a slight open-mouthed pout or a kind of grimace with
the tip of the tongue quickly touching the top of the palate. It's a jerky, alert
sound, not soothing. (Say ‘Jee’ out loud then contrast for example with the easier,
softer, pleasant sounds ‘mmm’ or ‘ooooh’)
The ‘Jeh’ sound doesn’t flow nicely into the
next syllable ‘ho’ as the lips have
to move to a new very different shape. The tongue moves to the base of the
mouth, and the whole jaw needs to move to make the sound.
Then the next syllable ‘vah’ again doesn’t flow smoothly from
the previous one and is a spiky, ugly, aggressive sound which is almost spat
There are many websites where people
discuss phonaesthetics and there are countless lists of people’s favourite and most
hated words. Haven't seen Jehovah mentioned in any lists good or bad.
A few words sound good but depict something unpleasant and some are ugly
but describe something lovely. But in many cases, cacophonous words describe
something distasteful or bad and mellifluous words describe something pleasurable
E.g.: ‘glutton’, ‘grudge’ ‘bulbous’ and ‘phlegm’
are ugly sounds whereas ‘serendipity’, ‘ephemeral’ or ‘luminescence’ are flowing.
I like the sound of Dionysius, Vishnu, Zeus, Athena and Aphrodite, but not Buddha, Bacchus, Thor, Marduk or Mercury. Or Jehovah
There is a kind of very mild synaesthesia going on where the stimulation of the
part of the brain that deals with processing sound creates an involuntary
reaction in a different part of the brain which deals with pleasure and dislike.
Lastly, if you don’t know about the ‘Bouba/Kiki effect’, it's interesting. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bouba/kiki_effect