The combination of consonants and vowels into a spoken sound is called a syllable. These are the building blocks of words. Wikipedia defines syllable as follows:
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds.
For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel) with optional initial and final margins (typically, consonants). Syllables are often considered the phonological building blocks of words. They can influence the rhythm of a language, its prosody, its poetic meter, its stress patterns, and so forth.
Prosody is another word for tone. For example, you can say the words what is that so that your tone implies a question, a surprise, excitement, or sarcasm. This is the prosody element of the sound.
English vowels and consonants are particularly attractive for putting together words that have teeth—in other words, for creating memorable, meaningful word usage in a specific context. While I can’t prove that English has more toothy words than other languages, I believe that people prefer to express their emotions in English rather than French. Here’s why.
Canada recognizes both English and French as official languages, and all traffic signs, menus, and public literature are exhibited in both languages. I studied French for many years in school, and while I cannot speak it well, I can understand 60% of what I read or hear. During a year I spent in Montreal, I attended a couple of professional hockey games where the crowd was largely French Canadians.
Their clear preference for speaking, with one obvious and notable exception, was French. Sitting in the stands and enjoying some great hockey, I had to strain to understand the people around me except when they used profanity.
It struck me as très odd that when they cursed, they used English expletives exclusively. I think this was because the folks who invented the King’s English took great care to create profanity with consonant and vowel sequences that people love to say. Start with a hard opening constriction; follow with a soft middle sound; and close with a hard constriction. All of our fun-to-say profanity follows this common pattern. (Consider the old George Carlin routine about the seven words you can’t say on television.) The French (and everyone else) love to swear in English. I didn’t hear anyone say merde, which sounds too subtle and soft and romantic. You just can’t match the joy of expressing emotions with English expletives.