29 June 2014

Weird Word - Portmanteau is... (4)

...a word that blends sounds and combines the meaning of two others (Concise Oxford English Dictionary). A word like...

T  W  E  R  K.

American Dad S09.E12 - 'Naled to the Limit.'

Twerkas stated on Wikipedia, is a portmanteau of twist + jerk.

Twerk, is so new that it has no entry on my OED edition of 2008.

However, as reported on FoxNews.com,
Twerk made officially into the mainstream English
as it got its entry in the OED Online
around August of 2013.

Peanut Butter by RuPaul - Music Clip

Eyes on the definition,  please!

Dance to popular music
in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements
and a low, squatting stance.

The OED Online dates the origins of the word twerk in the1990's.

Family Guy S07.E03 - Road to Germany.

It also speculates that twerk is an alteration of the word WORK.

Although twist + jerk fit perfectly as a possible portmanteau origin of twerk, I'm more inclined to accept the OED's speculation over work.

Two evidences from English can be used to reinforce OED's point.

RuPaul's Drag Race Untcuked


WORK is commonly pronounced as WERK.

In popular media work is often registered with 
it's deviated spell.


During picture taking,
and other artistic performances,
observers often shout repeatedly...


When shouted repeatedly - werk it, wert it, werk it - 
we end up hearing T'werk!

So, very likely, twerk is not a portmanteau at all.

Twerk is less likely to be a portmanteau of twist + jerk when we struggle to find others portmanteaus based around twist or jerk.

Like the other examples shown in previous posts,
portmanteau words usually spawn a number of new words. 

Staycation, for example - vacation spent in one's country, rather than abroad; or one spent at home and involving day trips to local attractions.

Apparently, staycation has origins during the recession of 2008, when many Britishers had to refrain from their traditional overseas vacation 'n' stay home.

And since then, each type of vacation has gained its own portmanteau.

Selfcation         Hotelcation         Webcation         Facebookation

Eurocation         Seniorcation         Kidcation         Gymcation

And my favourite...

G a y c a t i o n.

...vacation during which I go out to do a lot of dancing 'n' twerking.

25 May 2014

Weird Word - Portmanteau is... (3)

...a word that blends sounds and combines the meaning of two others (Concise Oxford English Dictionary).

A word like...                   M E T R O S E X U A L.

Metrosexual, according to OED, is 'a straight urban male who enjoys shopping, fashion, and similar interests traditionally associated with women or homosexual men'.

Iconic example of the metrosexual type is depicted in the tv show Queer Eye (2003).

OED dates it's origins to the 1990's, n' highlights the portmanteau formation:

Metrosexual, one may argue, isn't simply a blend of metropolitan n' heterosexual.

 Metrosexual is rather formed on the pattern of Homosexual.

-sexual is actually a derivational suffix added to Homo (Greek, same).
Then, other words followed the pattern:
Bi- Tran- Pan- Poly- 
& Hetero-sexual.

I support this argument on two evidences from English.

1. The suffix -sexual was dissociated from homosexual
during the emergency of the gay liberation movements, 1960's.

was favoured
gay activists,
who preferred the phrase homophile movement 
- a way to dissociate gay identity from a concept based uniquely on 
sexual behaviour.

2. With all respect to the OED, Wikipedia -
apparently quoting from Collins Unabridged English Dictionary
- defines a more faithful concept of metrosexual.

"A man, - especially one living in an urban, post-industrial, capitalist culture - who is essentially meticulous about his grooming n' appearance, typically spending a significant amount of time n' money on shopping as part of this."

South Park S08E07 - South Park is Gay! Spoof of Queer Eye.
The concept of metrosexual is often associated to straight men - 
one can confirm this on online dictionaries.

I believe this is a deliberate choice of word to dissociate
straight men who have a marked look from 
gay men who stereotypically have marked looks.

Daffy Thomas in Little Britain & Bruno in Bruno, the Movie

A legitimate concept of metrosexual, though, goes beyond t' straight sphere.
And, just to remind, gay men not often adopt a metrosexual style.

Normal, Ohio - American Sitcom (2000)

 Normal, Ohio depicted a typical American blue collar man,
interpreted by John Goodman who happened to be gay.

Also, other styles can be typically associated to gay men.




Mark Simpson, the English journalist who coined the term metrosexual,
stated in a 2002 online article - Salon.com - that a
typical metrosexual may be officially gay, straight, or bisexual.

As a result of this portmanteau, others followed on the same pattern.

Retrosexual   -   Übersexual   -   Wo-metrosexual
Gastrosexual                                                                   -   Omnisexual
And even Trysexual like Jones!

I mean Samantha Jones from Sex & The City.

Comming Up...

Staycation, and T W E R K!

18 May 2014

Weird Word - Portmanteau is... (2)

...a word that blends sounds and combines the meaning of two others (Concise Oxford English Dictionary).

...a word such as:
B O O T Y L I C I O U S.

Bootylicious has officially made into the OXford English Dictionary in 2004.

Bootylicious, as the OED defines, is an informal word of American English. It's said of a woman, sexually appealing.

OED dates it's origins to the 1990's, n' highlights the portmanteau formation: 

Bootylicious coinage is attributed to American rapper Snoop Dog in 1992, according to Wikipedia. 

However, the rapper may just have known to the media a word that should've been in use by his community at the time.

In 2001, Destiny's Child,
produced a hit named
This made the word 
more widely known - thus,
worthy of its OED entry.

Portmanteaus with delicious are noted since the 1950's - OED wise.

Babelicious - Glammalicious - ChocoliciousChavlicious.

Fergalicious - song by Fergie & Black Eyed Peas.

Candylicious - theme party at a pub.

Once we learn, it's easy to recognise a portmanteau with delicious
And also to coin your own word, like...

Jonesylicious - a (remote?) selfie by Jones.



Comming Up...

Metrosexual, Staycation, and T W E R K!

2 May 2014

Weird Word - Portmanteau is... (1)

...a large travelling bag made of stiff leather and opening into two equal parts (Concise Oxford English Dictionary).

Portmanteau is also a WORD,
used as a modifier.

So, a portmanteau film is a film that consists of 
two or more parts, aspects, or qualities.

Twilight Zone, The Movie (1983) - Creepshow (1982) - Pulp Fiction (1994)

Portmanteau Films, aka Anthology Film, Omnibus Film.

Portmanteau is also a concept that can be applied to words.

Portmanteau Word: a word that blend sounds and combine 
the meanings of two others (Concise OED).

Some portmanteaus, like sexting, are quite new in English.

It's quite easy to get good information in the web
about the meaning and origin of recent portmanteau words.
Regardless, I too want to share my contribution about the subject here.

Here are some portmanteaus that everyone above the age of 30 
must have once found unusual / weird.


Pre + Sequel. A prefix meaning 'before' plus a noun. 

It has origins in the 1970's according to Concise OED - though wikipedia claims 1958 using OED reference.

Now that prequels are so popular in cinema,
the word took a life of its own.

Threequel Interquel Midquel


 Vlog - Video + Blog

It has origins in the 2000's with the rise of video blogs - probably.

It's one of those words linked to the Internet that now
is everywhere in English - like Blogsphere.

Photolog - Litblog - Flog

Weblog is among a prolific spring of 
other internet related portmanteaus.

Webcam - Webmaster - Webisode - WebinarWebcast

It doesn't matter how bizarre they may've sounded at first,
we all got used to these portmanteaus.

Comming Up...

Bootylicious, Metrosexual, Staycation, and more.

15 March 2014

The Foreign Accent That Came From Space - 4 of 4

While collecting data from headlines of English papers for my MA dissertation, I came across a curious article about a rather strange language fact.

The following short story is based on such strange fact.
A snap of fingers. Suddenly, the darkness that surrounded me turned into a multitude of bright colors. Then, I heard a voice coming from a blurry figure which gradually acquired the contours of Dr Knapp.

It’d been quite a tedious journey since I left ward 38 of the Brotherton Wing. I had to listen to relatives, who I had no memory of meeting before, taking the mickey out of my accent. After a few travels to the Clarendon Wing of Leeds General Infirmary, and a wait of three weeks, I managed to finally have an MRI scan of my brain done. A news reporter from BBC Yorkshire approached Sharon after an interview, but she declined it, to avoid attracting more attention. Even though, editors of The Sun could not pass that opportunity to print one of their witty headlines: Whatever Happened to the Lad’s Tyke? The Daily Mail also printed an article mentioning my case and a possible Epidemic of Foreign Accent Syndrome.

This was how my case reached neuropsychologist and specialist in speech disorders from the Metropolitan University of Newcastle Upon Tyne: Dr Tyler.

In our first meeting, after examining the results of my MRI scan, Dr Tyler explained that like other patients with foreign accent syndrome I presented minuscule alterations in several areas of the brain that controlled speech. Dr Tyler was intrigued because I did not have a history of migraine attacks, and presented no visible signs of head injury when the symptoms of foreign accent syndrome appeared. No other exam indicated signs of stroke as the cause of those alterations either. Dr Tyler hypothesized that I perhaps suffered from a rare neurological condition called cerebral vasculitis, which is basically an inflammation of the blood vessels in the brain that may starve language areas of vital oxygen. In order to determine that I would need to do a magnetic resonance angiography. Since my previous MRI scan had ruled out the hypothesis of tumor, I would have to wait perhaps for months to obtain an MRA on the NHS through the normal procedures.

Dr Tyler also recorded our meeting sessions and subsequently submitted my speech to a transcription and linguistic analysis under the supervision of Dr Wright - a dialectologist from the Linguistics Research Centre of the University of Leeds*.

Dr Wright concluded that, besides the evident phonetic distortions, my English presented structural patterns of what Larry Selinker, in his 1972 paper, identified as Interlanguage. Interlanguage is the stage when the language you're learning, i.e. second language or L2, presents features of your mother tongue, i.e. first language or L1. So, in all respects, my English truly resembled that of a learner of English as second language.

Larry Selinker (1972): concept of Interlanguage
I couldn’t be less surprised, since I knew that indeed I had come to Leeds as an exchange student. I eventually gave to Dr Tyler a full account of my Peruvian background in Trujillo, which included my parents’ landline number. After my confession, Dr Tyler then contacted a specialist psychiatrist from the Leeds Institute of Health Science, Dr Knapp, and arranged a meeting.

I agreed to be submitted to a hypnosis session so as to make me recollect the circumstances that led me to unconsciousness that night at Hyde Park. Under hypnosis, I recalled details of my supposed meeting with the messenger.

"Do not be impressed with that." Dr Knapp told me after I questioned what kind of memory was that. "Your subconscious mind have just worked out a combination of elements from your quotidian life and elements of alien abduction narratives. It did it in order to justify the confusion that the foreign accent syndrome creates on your identity. It's more simple and frequent than you may suppose." He still emphasised.

"You don't need to say that again.Although the hypnosis caused me to have a vivid recollection of a supposed meeting with some kind of alien, I remained sceptical myself.

“Well, whatever have happened in the night you were found at Hyde Park - as you tell me – it’s still deeply blocked from your memory. So, for the time being, I prefer to leave it there.”

I appreciated the doctors’ efforts to help me, even if their approaches only reinforced my identity convictions.

After the hypnosis session, Dr Knapp conducted a further investigation of my case. He found out that I'd taken part in a conversation exchange scheme that puts language learners in contact with native speakers of the language they wish to learn. Revising my records at the Language Centre, where the exchange scheme service is offered, Dr Tyler discovered that during two semesters I'd had weekly meetings with this Peruvian exchange student who came from the National University of Trujillo. Dr Tyler explained the case to Mary-Anne Ansell, the executive director of the Language Centre, and managed to gain access to the records of the Peruvian student.

The Peruvian student's landline number in Trujillo matched the number I'd given to Dr Tyler. Dr Knapp explained me that scientists largely accepted that memories could be altered by outside influences and that his investigations into my case reinforced that assumption. 

In his conclusions Dr Knapp stated that my altered accent could be a symptom from a delusional misidentification syndrome named Capgras Delusion. This leaves the person acting a bit like Miles Bennell from Invasion of the Body Snatchers: thinking that everyone is being replaced by pod alien doppelgängers.

If confirmed by further exams, my case would be a particularly unusual one, since instead of believing that a close friend or relative had been replaced by some sort of doppelgänger I actually believed that I was another person. This was further complicated duo to my memory loss.

Apart from that Peruvian phone number I couldn't find any other proof of my original identity. The student accommodation office also had no record linked to my Peruvian family name. I couldn't continue speculating what had happened the night before I woke up in the ward 38. I had to admit that Sharon didn't really have any hidden agenda by claiming to be my mother - neither Sharon nor everyone else who claimed to know me from a long time. The only sensible option that I had left was to accept the clinical assistance that Dr Knapp offered me. Dr Knapp then advised me that writing about that experience could function as a remedy to my identity crisis. 

So I began writing.

Alas, Dr Knapp must've forgotten to mention that such remedy might have a side effect: I began recalling parts of my meeting with the messenger that hadn't appeared during my hypnosis session...

The end.

* This is a fictional story based on a factual language disorder - Foreign Accent Syndrome. None of the action narrated ever took place in the actual settings or institutions referred. The characters are purely fictional and any similarities between them and real individuals are purely coincidental. Some characters were named after real individuals in honour of their real world expertise; none of them ever had any involvement with the action narrated, since all events are purely fictional.