Friday, September 28, 2007

Any Words Leave You Silly or Sore?

I can sum up my last six weeks by something my husband said at the beginning: "The word 'NICU' should never be in anyone's vocabulary." Our son, now home and healthy, was born seven weeks early and spent a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.

The nurses and doctors were beyond amazing; they make me believe in humanity again. But my reaction now to the word NICU is an interesting one--half shrinking, horrified fear, and half grateful, hopeful desire.

There are other words or names that have these sorts of effects. There are two particular male names that make me almost physically ill, due to the manner in which I encountered them in childhood (no, not the way you think). The words "guppie" and "mug" always bring a smile to my face, evoking as they do my first year of college and my beloved, crazy roommate. "Perspicacity" brings to mind, simultaneously, tentative ambition with the memory of a strict and admired high school English teacher, and slight shame, as it came up in a bad Piers Anthony novel that shouldn't have interested me so much.

If I dredged my mind, I'm sure I could come up with plenty of other examples--words with such strong emotional impact that they almost count as a significant relationship. Anyone else find their reaction to various words less than objective?


Karen M said...

Just off the top of my head, I have to agree with you about NICU. Sounds like "nick you," which seems emotionally apt.

More importantly, congratulations to you and your husband on the birth of your son, I'Girl!

Frankly, my dear, ... said...

Yes, I get sick to my stomach whenever I hear the word "Dunblane".

John Cowan said...

There seem to be quite a few words which squick many people, notably "moist" and "panties". Search for them on Language Log.