My thoughts returned to the diction of the "Full Frontal" hostess when actress Minnie Driver tweeted: "That was the wrong word for Samantha Bee to have used. But mostly because (to paraphrase the French) Ivanka has neither the warmth nor the depth."
My own meager appendix to yesterday's news concerns the way in which the word in question has something like a poetic effect that is, I think, a cousin to what English teachers call onomatopoeia. You know about this if you somehow managed to stay awake while the teacher was boring the crap out of everyone by woodenly, slavishly making check points next to bulleted items in the printout of the day's "learning objectives." There are words for sounds, and of course words make sounds too, and when the sound the word makes imitates the sound the word is for, that's onomatopoeia. I was bored myself, but I believe that's right, and, if it is, examples include: sizzle, whisper, and plop. It's a favorite device of kiddie literature, as seen, for example, in the opening to The Little Engine that Could:
Chug, chug, chug. Puff, puff, puff. Ding-dong, ding-dong. The little train rumbled over the tracks....
Little kids love that. I wonder whether it plays a role in language acquisition. Once you know how to read, the shine is gone, but before that there is magic in the way the words make the same sound as the train.
Then there are other words, not for sounds, where there is a correspondence between the thing the word stands for and the sound it makes. I think an example might be "prim." Doesn't this seem right in an almost inexplicable way? Something about the single syllable, the short-i sound, and the way in which you close your mouth--purse your lips--to make the opening and closing sounds. All that speaks of constriction, and constriction is close to what is signified by the word and its associations--stiffly proper, over-proper, an arguable excess of propriety, narrow, cold, uptight, emotionless but efficient. Prim.
Ivanka Trump is prim. Samantha Bee is not, which is why she had it in her to apply to Ivanka that bad word whose very sound suggests blunt, ugly force and contempt. You barely open your mouth to say "prim" and you never shut it to say what Samantha said. Your tongue gets involved, and the closing t is like spitting, the opposite of constriction. Reading over what I just wrote, it seems apt that I settled unconsciously on the rhyming adjective "blunt." Maybe I should get to work on a limerick.