The notion of "phonesthemes" has long been one of the more dubious ideas in the study of language, at least among linguists. Although most people would claim to recognize a certain amount of sound symbolism in onomatopeic words, the idea that sound-meaning pairs are not arbitrary has generally been dismissed.
In spite of the meme's rather dismal reputation, some people have gone ahead and tried to catalogue evidence for some of these alleged correspondences anyways. The late Dwight Bolinger, a linguist of impeccable reputation, wrote a paper speculating about evidence for phonesthemes from an American Indian language (the reference can be found here; see here for a list he was partially responsible for compiling). And it's hard not to at least find the idea mildly seductive: with examples like glimmer, glitter, gleam, glare, and glow, it's hard not to think that there's something shiny about gl-.
This all came to mind for SC when trying to track down yet another piece of music heard in the gym while working out ([work harder -- ed.]). A not entirely obnoxious song involving an accordion and the phrase "you promised me" had been bothering your host. Searching the web for it turned up the fact that it was the English version of a currently popular recording of a French song called "Tu Es Foutu". As written in English, the lyrics describe a woman who is rather irritated at her boyfriend. In spite of not being a French speaker, though, SC was reasonably sure that "Tu Es Foutu" does not translate to "You Promised Me"; he was willing to guess that "Tu Es" translates as "You Are", but that was about it.
So what's "foutu"? Altavista's translation was no help, returning the English word as "foutu". One dictionary found through Yahoo suggested it meant "ruined". But SC couldn't help suspecting that one f-bomb sounds much like another, and it didn't take long to find another, much more frank dictionary which suggests, um, "screwed".
Maybe there's something to this phonestheme idea after all.