Wordplay Wednesday

 Pack a Suitcase: Playing with Portmanteaux

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One of the wonderful things about language is that it is not a static entity, but rather a dynamic and ever-changing organism. New words and expressions are created all the time.

Today for Wordplay Wednesday we are playing with portmanteaux, words that are a combination of two common words. The original usage of portmanteau  was a French word meaning  a two-sided suitcase.  Now it also means a two-sided word created by mashing words together.

The term as a word play device was coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the LookingGlass,   when  Humpty-Dumpty explains the meanings of  the words in the famous poem, “ Jabberwocky”. Here are the first few lines:

Twas brillig and

The slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble

In the waves.

All mimsy were the borogroves and the

Mome raths outgrabe.

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For instance, Humpty-Dumpty  says slithy is a combination of   “slimy “ and “ lithe”. 

Since Lewis’ time portmanteaux have become a way of expressing an idea that conveys more meaning using fewer words. It is also a fun way to play around with words, which of course, I am all about.

Here are some classic ones: 

spoon+fork= spork,

breakfast+ lunch= brunch,

smoke+fog=smog.

In recent years, many portmanteau words have been created in the areas of media, entertainment and advertising. Think  “televangelist”, “Brangelina” and “croissandwich”. I’m sure you can think of many more that have found their way into every day usage.

So, let’s create some new ones. Here’s how:

~Think of some of your favorite words and expressions.

~Write them down and start playing around combining the first part of one word with the last part of another.

~Combine common letters or omit some.

~Does your new word have a  pleasing sound and form?

~Does it convey the meaning  better than the two words separately?

If so, you have a portmanteau.  Begin using it in conversation whenever it fits. Who knows, perhaps your word will become part of the ever-changing English language.

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It takes a bit of patience and ingenuity to construct a portmanteau that sounds right and needs little explanation.  My paper was covered with words and scribbles before I came up with a few:

Wonderful+terrific= wonderific   

 I think playing with words is wonderific.

Writer+illustrator= writastrator   

I want to use my words and my art to be a writastrator.

Furry+cuddly= furdly                        

My dog is furdly.

Snooze+conversation= snoozversation     

I cannot handle another snoozversation with that woman.

I would love to hear what you come up with!

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Pack your writer’s suitcase with some new words and have a writing adventure.