Tolkien and "cellar door"
This is an article tracing the history of the idea that the sound of "cellar
door" is particularly beautiful. It mentions Tolkien as a proponent of the
idea, but he is clearly not its originator; in fact, several before him seem
to have come up with that particular example independently.
To be clear, Tolkien wasn't claiming to have originated the idea either. He
is just using it as an example. The article says merely that "he mentioned
the idea of cellar door's special beauty in a speech in 1955 and is often
given credit for it."
The citation is to Tolkien's essay "English and Welsh", which was indeed
given as a lecture in 1955, and what Tolkien says (p. 190-91 of _The
Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays_) is in the context of discussing
what makes a language beautiful, intended to explain the appeal to him of
"Most English-speaking people, for instance, will admit that _cellar door_
is 'beautiful', especially if dissociated from its sense (and from its
spelling). More beautiful than, say, _sky_, and far more beautiful than
_beautiful_. Well then, in Welsh for me _cellar doors_ are extraordinarily
So rather than claiming to have originated the idea, Tolkien considers it a