Monday, 2 July 2012

Psithurism


Pronunciation is a funny thing. Man has walked on the moon, but he will never be able to say "Peggy Babcock" quickly ten times in a row. Then there are the lovely tongue twisters like "The sixth sick sheik's sixth sick sheep". But sometimes you need only a single word, and that word is psithurism.

The OED explains how to pronounce it: a P, an S, a short I (as in pit), an unvoiced TH (as in thin), a UR (as in curious), and an ism as in communism.

So try it. Psithurism. It can be done, but it takes a few goes. Now, can you guess what it means? That's right. It's a whispering sound like the rustling of leaves in the wind.

12 comments:

  1. I was thinking something medical, as in phthisis, which actually may not have been too far off in some respects!

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  2. New Kid on the Block2 July 2012 at 14:21

    Funnily enough, although it is the exact same Greek letter Ψ (Psi) we are talking about in Psithurism (Ψιθυρισμός) and in Psychiatry or Psychedelic (Ψυχιατριακή and Ψυχεδελικός respectively),only in Psithurism the "correct" Greek sound PS is preserved. :-)

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  3. New Kid on the Block2 July 2012 at 14:31

    Correction: Ψυχιατρική (pronounced:PSICHIATRIKI)for Psychiatry.

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  4. So it's not a secret, rather gossipy religion?

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  5. As in Eddie Fontaine's Rockabilly classic about frustrated teenage sexual longings "There Aint Nothin' Shakin' (But the Leaves on the Trees)"......bloomin' classic is it too!! Check it oot....

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  6. The Antipodean3 July 2012 at 03:54

    I've always preferred susurration; possibly because it's easier to say, possibly because it leads to being able to discuss a susurrus. They make a nice pair, though: psithurism and susurration.

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  7. Thanks for posting this. New favorite word, atop a long list of wonderfully specific words.

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  8. Psithurism. Thank you! I love it. It is the sound of my life at present.
    pozible.com/fallenleaves
    Not only that the wind picked up here today so it is both in the workshop and out.

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