Clunt and Shart

The Walrus - - LETTERS -

I sus­pect Pro­fes­sor Chris West­bury’s com­puter might well have been con­sort­ing with the Ox­ford English Dic­tionary when it gen­er­ated 5,928 “made-up” words (“Snunkoople,” March). Of those listed, two ap­pear in my copy of the OED : to clunt is to walk heav­ily, and shart can be a vari­a­tion of heart or a con­trac­tion of the ex­cla­ma­tion God’s heart . Per­haps a peer re­view of the pro­fes­sor’s study would be timely?

Peter A. Mur­phy Bramp­ton, ON

I don’t un­der­stand this part of the ar­ti­cle: “words that sounded rude shot straight to the top of the scale. . . whong , dongl , shart , focky , and clunt . Clearly, those had to go.” The pro­fes­sor changed the re­sults of his se­cond study by re­mov­ing the non-words that he as­sumed had sex­ual or scat­o­log­i­cal con­no­ta­tions. But why do this? He might have ig­nored the most in­ter­est­ing find­ing of his first study: some non-words are funny be­cause of their taboo con­no­ta­tions rather than be­cause they vi­o­late phono­log­i­cal rules.

Wayne Hall Hal­i­fax, NS

Snunkoople. Hablump. Jumemo. Fingly­siv? Dr. Seuss was clearly far bet­ter at this than their com­puter. the­wal­rus.ca/snunkoople — @spoo­nol­o­gist

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