Cellar Door


Cellar door is considered by many to be the most euphonic sound combination in the English language. Say it slowly and pay attention to its completeness, its pleasing sensation in your mouth. Some might say it’s like biting into a delicious piece of roast, well seasoned and tender. If you can imagine a word creating a taste in your mouth you are experiencing insight into a condition called synesthesia. In some people words can vividly impart taste. These people experience what is called lexical-gustatory synesthesia. To these few, the word jail might taste like a cold piece of bacon. The word gazebo might taste like dutch cholocate. For people who experience lexical-gustatory synesthesia these word flavor associations are life long occurrences. They will always distinctly associate the same flavor with the same word.

Other forms of synesthesia exist as well, all blurring the lines between perceptions. Some people always see the number eight as blue. Some people might hear a sound when experiencing a certain taste. Scientists don’t know much about this condition but believe that it comes from some level of cross wiring in the brain.

In the movie Ratatouille there is a scene in which Remy, the chef mouse, tries to describe why some flavor combinations are so delicious. When combining a bit of cheese and fruit, color explosions erupt around him in a synesthetic experience.

While you might not taste a hot café latte when you hear the word bookshelf, most people are affected by sound in profound physiological ways that they are unaware of.

The study of the euphony or cacophony of words is called phonoaesthetics. Some languages are considered more euphonic than others. For example, French is famous for having an enchanting sound. Can the sound of a language have an effect on the speaker of that language? Do the French value beauty because of their beautiful language or did the language grow beautiful because of the French ideologies? Or is it all a coincidence?


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