Cellar Door

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So I was a Donnie Darko virgin until recently, and though I am a Tolkien fan I would never go near one of his essays on language so I had never come across the beauty of “Cellar door”.

It does have a french sound. Celadore.  All those open sounding letters as Tolkien suggested when he first commented on the phrase.

I was interested to notice  the small thrill of dread  I experienced when the above phrase was mentioned during the movie and even later during conversations. The phrase “Cellar door” conjures up all sorts of dreaded mysteries behind its beautiful sounding name.

Having English as my only language I find myself wondering what English sounds like to a non-speaker.  I know for a fact it sounds nothing like it closest relative, German;even that sounds hard to me.  Is English it full of hissing “s” sounds or lisping “th” sounds or long “l” sounds.  It must sound pretty monotoned compared to some Asian languages and clipped and nagging compared to the languages of the Pacific islands which seems formed of meadering words completely made up of vowels.

So, does “cellar door” as a phrase fit well with the English language?  What does it sound like to those who can make no sense of the words themselves?  I guess it wouldn’t fill them with dread and give them dreams of turning a doorknob on to unlit stairs and a well of darkness.  Maybe it makes them think of France.

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2 responses »

  1. I’ve heard French people imitate English people much the same way as we’d make French sounding sounds, but not actual words. It comes out “far far far far far”, but with a really toffy accent. Hard to convey in text.

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