Thursday, February 09, 2006


The questionnaire

Anyone who has watched the interview show Inside the Actors Studio knows that host James Lipton finishes each interview with a questionnaire that was, as Lipton puts it, "Invented by Marcel Proust, and perfected by my hero, Bernard Pivot." The questionnaire goes thus (updated to include links to the answers, now that I've finished the series):

  1. What is your favourite word?
  2. What is your least favourite word?
  3. What turns you on?
  4. What turns you off?
  5. What sound or noise do you love?
  6. What sound or noise do you hate?
  7. What is your favourite curse word?
  8. What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
  9. What profession other than yours would you not like to try?
  10. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
I'm going to occasionally answer one or another of these questions for myself. I'll start with the first, here:

What is your favourite word?


The word, not the fruit. The fruit's fine, but it's the word that's really appealing. I like the sound, especially when it's pronounced in the British way, with a very open second "a". I like the look, the way the letters are rounded, and blend. I like the way the French and German word for "pineapple" — "ananas" — looks like "banana". I use it as an interjection, as a good-natured thing to call someone who's done something silly or uncharacteristically dumb ("Oh, stop being a banana."), and just as a generic, random word (check out the examples in RFC 2683, for instance).

When my brother was married on Santorini a couple of years ago, he, his wife, and I were in an ice cream shop, and he saw that one flavour they had was "βανιλια". "Hm, banana!", he remarked. I looked at it. "Ah, no," I said, "That says 'vanilla'." Yes, there he was, being a banana. But you can see why he was confused. (I learned something on that trip that I found interesting: Since there is no "b" in Greek (the beta (Β/β) is pronounced as an English "v"), when they need a "b" sound they use "μπ" ("mp"). So "banana" is "μπανανα".)

Once, when driving somewhere on a trip, I zipped past a grocery store and shouted excitedly, "What a great name! 'Food Banana'!" "It was 'Food Bonanza," my passenger corrected. Oh.

There's an old Ziggy cartoon, in which Ziggy writes "banananananana..." until it runs off the edge of the paper, and he says, "The trouble with writing 'banana' is that you don't know when to stop.

I'll stop now. I've already proven that I'm a banana.

No comments: