Re: Portmanteaux (various sources)
Date: Thu, 16 Feb 95 23:32:46 PST
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: Re: Portmanteaux (various sources)
From: Hal Glatzer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I enjoy portmanteaux, and most neologisms for that matter. But I have
a particular fondness for words invented by authors in their books which
serve the novel's purpose but ought to be in wider currency.
Consider, for example, "karass" and its an[ti]thesis, "granfaloon."
Kurt Vonnegut developed them (and a few others) in CAT'S CRADLE.
A karass is a natural team that coalesces, almost by itself, to
accomplish a task. Much of the cyberspace networking, lately,
reinforces the reality of this concept. "If you want to know the
nature of a granfaloon," he wrote, "remove the skin of a
toy baloon." He gave examples: alumni associations, people who
think that everybody from their state (town, country, etc.) have
enough in common that they ought to be friends, and corporations.
I actually use these words in everyday speech, where appropriate,
May I also urge people who need to express evaluations with a tinge
of irony to employ George Orwell's Newspeak (from 1984). An
opinion with which one agrees is "goodthinkful" (or, if really
worth reading on the op-ed page, "doubleplus goodthinkful"), at
least until you read the next one.
The advantages of using these constructions are:
1) They're really expressive.
2) They're already "out there" (you don't have to invent them).
3) Some people, anyway, will nod knowingly when you use them
and it feels good to make connections that way.
4) If nobody gets the point, you can take center stage to
explain the word and cite its source.
5) Think of it as adding to the sum of knowledge.
From: Robert Reynolds <Robert.Reynolds@directory.Reed.EDU>
The bumper sticker
Don't Californicate Oregon
led -- inevitably, I suppose -- to
Don't Oregonize Idaho.
From: Anu Garg <email@example.com>
The topic touched the creative fancy of the linguaphiles. Here
are some more selections from the resulting outpourtmanteaux.
Danny Bobrow (xerox.com):
I just received a message that said "I am on the fench about that one"
a combination of fence and bench.
Mel Malinowski (malinowski.com):
Vog: Volcanic fog --> Vog, essentially volcanic smog, common on the Big
Island of Hawaii.
Tim Szeliga (nws.gov):
I wanted to reply to you "ex post hasto".
ex post facto + post-haste,
meaning, almost literally, "I want it mailed yesterday!"
John J. Mauro (umd.edu):
From my late 50's school years at Eastman in Rochester, N.Y., I believe
to have been coined there by one Bernie Hoffer and not heard elsewhere
since: bastard + bitch = bastrich. Also from this bygone era there was
another word playful tradition of "backwardsing" words, hence, one Noel
Stevens came to be affectionately known a Leon Snevets.
Ward Webber (boeing.com):
Two more portmanteaux for Canadians (I made these up, but I can't
prove it): Raincouver and Cowgary.
David J. Martin (tamu.edu):
I have an additional one for you. Another name for people from Illinois
(I never cared for Illini) is Illinoyances (alternate spelling:
Illinoisances), a combination of Illinois and annoyance. For some
reason my wife (who is from Illinois) has never found that funny or
fitting. Oh, well.
Bruce Nevin (lightstream.com):
Eco's "styleme" is not a portmanteau, since -eme is a suffix established
in linguistic studies (phoneme, morpheme, etc.).
A favorite combination: picornavirus: pico- "very small" + RNA + virus.
This would be merely a compound if -rna- were pronounced as RNA,
but the pronunciation is relexified as pi-KORN-a-VI-rus, so it is
Robert Westmoreland (indiana.edu):
Japanese uses a lot of portmanteau words, especially with long names.
For instance, "Toukyou Daigaku" (Tokyo University) becomes "Toudai".
Notable, they often borrow or concoct English expressions, adapt the
pronunciation to Japanese phonotactics and then make portmanteaux from
them. The results are quite unrecognizable to us angloglots, but quite
a few Japanese seem to actually believe they are speaking English when
they use these terms. Two (from among zillions) examples: "Eea-kon" is
air-conditioning. Nintendo prefers its famous product to be known as
"fami-con"--for family computer.
James Dignan (otago.ac.nz):
In New Zealand, Californicate sometimes means to use American spellings/
pronunciations/usages with abandon whenever possible. Don't forget words
like franglais, japlish and scramblish. Surely you have also heard (herd?)
of the yakalo (yak & buffalo).
Ken Laws (sri.com):
I just thought I'd mention: two nights ago, my wife invented a portmanteau
word. "Calciturn." At least, I can't find it in my dictionary. The odd
thing is, we both know what it would mean if it meant anything. It seems to
be a combination of taciturn and recalcitrant, with maybe a touch of
calcified. It would refer to someone who is quietly stubborn or silently
resistant to change, stony. A "Silent Majority" member, perhaps, rather
than someone actively plotting sabotage.
"conflustered"-a combination of confused and flustered, a state where one
is in a sort of frustrated mental jumble.
"traumoil"-trauma and turmoil, usually used to describe a combination of
causes leading to emotional chaos.
Thanks all. Admittedly, Cobol is an acronym -- thanks also for pointing out the oversight.
© 1995 Peter Langston