Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Portmanteau and It Isn't a Valise
Not being an English major and simply a word-a-phile, I still knew "Portmanteau" when my son used it this last weekend. However, I did not know the secondary meaning which is now all the rage across the Internet. I defined it correctly as “a large suitcase.” He grinned and said it’s also a word whose form and meaning are derived from the blending of two words, i.e. fog + smoke = smog. It seems to have been derived from the original term of a suitcase. Stuffing things into a suitcase ---stuffing words together to make a new one.
This word play has become a game with the younger generation to make up these new words. There is even a blog about it which the New York Times has recognized www.dailyportmanteau.com I was fascinated. Like Kathy, I am always eager to learn new things about the English language. This was something that I thought we as writers should know about. Okay, there are probably a lot of you out there that already know about this but hey, us older people are still trying to catch up. I thought I would give you a few examples:
Slithy – lithe and slimy
Splisters – splinters and blisters
Editated – edited and annotated
Squish – squirt and swish
Slanguage – slang and language
Sexatraordinary – sex and extraordinary
Netizen – net and citizen
Emoticon - emotion and icon such as :) (betcha didn’t know that had a name)
Tatooth – tattoo and tooth, like people who put diamonds or gold on their teeth
Infanticipate – infant and anticipate – people expecting a baby
Videots – video and idiots – people addicted to videos and television
Shareware – share and software
Alcoholidays – alcohol and holidays
And you know who was credited with beginning this? Not anyone recent – Lewis Carrol in the “Jabberwocky.” Geez, I learned a whole lot of new things just by listening to my son. Who knew? That got me started looking up these things. Then I went on to trying to figure out what Cyberpunk and Steampunk were (since all the romance publishers are looking for this). Am I hopelessly out of date or what?
Tell me something new you learned recently. A word, a phrase something that you had no clue about. Are you up to date on all the latest jargon or so behind (like me) that you have to do some research. After skimming through the Internet, I fascinated my husband by explaining to him what cankles were (another portmanteau – ankles + calf) then wowed him with tramp stamp (I just threw that one in because I thought it was funny). I was on a roll. Share some new words with us here under the Tulip Tree. Can we make a portmanteau out of that? Hmmm…Tultree.