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.

8 March 2014

The Foreign Accent That Came From Space - 3 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.
It felt like I've been waken from a deep slumber. After a little struggle, forcing my eyelids to open, I distinguished an obfuscating white light glowing above me. All I could hear was this continuous dull humming noise that sounded as if coming from inside my own head. My limbs were numb. As I gained consciousness, I realized that I was lying on my back on a hard raised surface. I lifted the upper part of my body and remained sat, trying to understand what place was that. The bright light glowing above me dispersed itself and merged with everything else that was just all-white. I saw no hallway out. I turned my head slightly as I noticed some kind of spectrum resting on the periphery of my vision. When I stared straight at this spectrum it just remained there shapeless, extremely out of focus. Then I realized that my pupils should be dilated.

“Do not worry. I am the messenger. I am here to help.” This shapeless thing addressed me in a deep voice! It was a man.

I had full consciousness of the eeriness of that situation and had many questions rumbling around my mind. Yet, I should be under some sort of emotional hallucination that made me feel somnolent and impelled to pay attention - as if I was attending a regular morning lecture at the Roger Stevens Building. Gradually, the hard surface where I lay minutes before morphed into a smooth seat where I then reclined comfortably. Behind the messenger, a screen projected itself, showing patterns of constellations, whilst the he assumed a lecturer’s posture.

“I belong to an assemblage of messengers who, like me, are presently engaged in particular missions throughout different locations on the earth. We act under the command of a higher authority, our main function being to inspire individual humans and entrust these individuals to multiply our inspiration amongst others.” Along with the messenger’s words, the screen showed a succession of iconic images which I recognized from the GCSE History books.

“Messengers and humans alike are creations from a unique source of power. The main difference between messengers and humans resides in the function attributed by the source of power… Humans” he proceeded, “were created with the function to preserve and enhance energy that comes from the source of power. The energy, then, flow back to the source, continuously improved.” The messenger’s mouth appeared to move out of synch with his voice. Somehow, he was streaming those concepts straight into my thoughts, without actually speaking.

Behind him, the screen showed pictorial illustrations which looked suspiciously like the ones from the Holy Scripture that my mother kept open on the table at home. Following the illustrations on the screen I gained awareness that the earthly realm had been created amorphous with the purpose to be under the constant control of the source of power. By exerting control upon the forms of the earthly realm the source of power preserved and enhanced itself. The source of power then created organisms, namely humans, capable of performing such control upon the earthly realm. Thus, every time that a human organism exerted such control, this organism processed the maintenance and enhancement of a fraction of the energy from the source of power. However, humans would not exercise control upon the earthly realm without a stimulus. This was where the function of the messengers became essentially connected with the function of the humans. Messengers provide afflatus. 

In the Paleolithic, messengers inspired the Neanderthals to knap the forms of solid matter, like stones and bones, and later to control heat and create fire. Having control over fire enabled the early humans to be further inspired to control their environment, subdue wild beasts at distance, and heat clay to craft pottery and construct stronger dwellings. Equally, humans were inspired to control the appearance and taste of their victuals by cooking and seasoning. In the dawn of civilization the messengers multiplied the effect of their stimulus by inspiring intellectually advanced humans to exert control over masses of humans. In this way, hordes of humans were stimulated to exert control over large blocks of solid matter and construct massive monuments. Messengers worked closely along humans in the heyday of stonemasonry. They were indirectly the architects of the Pyramids in Egypt, the Citadel of Athens in Greece, Persepolis in Iran, and other sites that, like R’lyeh, today lie at the depths of the ocean. When the messengers inspired great leaders, such as the king Alexander of Macedon, to expand their empires they were actually expanding the reach of their inspirational stimulus. Throughout history, humans were inspired to exert their controlling abilities upon everything in the earthly realm. Works of art are the best evidence of the messengers’ inspiration that compelled humans to control the forms of hard materials, coloured substances, and the elements of sound, to generate sculptures, paintings, and music. Still, one of the messengers’ most marvellous endeavours was to inspire humans to exert control over their guttural sounds. This is when humanity was endowed with their primordial tongue: the Indo-European-Semitic language.

Before the Indo-European-Semitic all humans communicated through a system of elementary sounds, much like most animal subspecies do. Then, humans began controlling the resonation of sounds from their vocal cords, and using their tongues and lips in multiple combinations to further modify the sounds. This allowed humans to make more defined associations between sounds with things, situations, and thoughts. Then, through the control of rhythm and intonation, the system of sounds gained more complexity, and the humans were allowed to establish further associations of meaning. The complexity of associations generated inevitable inconsistencies across different subgroups of individuals. Before long, the sounds of the primordial tongue were associated in such an inconsistent manner that individuals couldn't understand each other anymore. The humans were further inspired to exert control over the inconsistencies of the Indo-European-Semitic, what caused the emergency of a number of more consistent sublanguages. And that was exactly the messengers’ purpose. Despite enabling better communication, the Indo-European-Semitic also allowed the messengers to establish a control to human understanding of each other. Through that route, the messengers actually established a linguistic network system through which they could regulate the reach of their inspirational stimulus.

 Messengers needed such regulator system because human subgroups began to evolve at different rates. Whenever a human subgroup evolved, their potential to exert control upon the forms of the earthly realm also evolved. In order to trigger these subgroups’ potentials the messengers had to provide them with more advanced forms of inspirational stimulus. So, the messengers used a specific sublanguage, intelligible only to those who were evolved, to conveniently restrict the reach of a new inspirational stimulus. This linguistic network system, for example, allowed the messengers to inspire exclusively the Israelite slaves when these had evolved enough to exert their controlling abilities independent of the command of the Pharaoh of Egypt. Whilst communicating with the Israelites, messengers kept the Egyptians from understanding that inspiration. The linguistic network system became so intricate that the messengers were capable of regulating the reach of their inspirations at the individual level. This is how the messengers fine-tuned their inspirational stimulus and restricted their intelligibility only to those who were appropriately evolved. The linguistic network system is still essential to the messengers’ endeavours nowadays. Yet, just as they inspired a subdivided linguistic system to limit the reach of their inspirations, they also had to inspire a unifying linguistic system to transmit the inspirations that a larger number of humans were already prepared to receive.

One of the messengers’ former mission was to inspire the dwellers of the Ancient Rome with the forms of Latin. The forms that structured Latin proved themselves to be resilient across the many human subgroups that ended up acquiring modified forms of this language. During a long period, Latin became the linguistic system through which the messengers conveyed their inspirations to saints, martyrs, explorers, scientists, and philosophers. Images of Augustin of Hippo, Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galileiand René Descartes appeared on the screen. But Latin was only the onset. In their mission to inspire a unified linguistic system, the messengers also inspired the forms of Germanic. The forms that structured Germanic were not as resilient as the forms that structured Latin, but the messengers needed them to create a base for their greater project, an ultimate system that would accumulate resilient forms of both Germanic and Latin. This is how they inspired the forms of English, which is still being perfected today.

I noticed that every time that I shifted my attention off the messenger, his facial features shifted in minimal details, producing alterations that couldn't be perceived immediately but that after a continuous sequence of subtle changes made me feel like I was staring at a different face. Suddenly, the messenger’s mouth began to move in synch with his voice again. "...And that's what brings us to this moment."

"You find yourself now inside a chamber with physical properties that maximises your ability to exert control upon forms. During our meeting you have exerted control upon all the forms within this physical spaceMy physical appearance and movements are just some of the things that you have controlled. All that I am doing is providing you with the appropriate stimulus and you complete the scenario by exerting your natural controlling abilities on the amorphous forms within this physical space... The earthly realm have pretty much the same physical properties found within this chamber. But human individuals need to evolve to a certain level to understand the messengers’ inspirational stimulus. That triggers their potential controlling abilities. This is why the linguistic forms of English have been inspired on humans, so that us messengers can communicate our ultimate inspirational stimulus to the individuals that will be prepared by the turn of the third millennium. To accomplish our mission, around the beginning of the twentieth century, us messengers have inspired sufficiently evolved individuals whose first language is English. These individuals were entrepreneurs, authors, and leaders, like Andrew Carnegie, Wallace Wattles, and Martin Luther King, who were suitably selected to multiply the messengers’ inspiration using their English through writings and speeches. Naturally there will be still a good time until the forms that structure English reach a state that will define an ultimate unifying language system and carry our inspirations to all humans. Until there, since English have inherited essential characteristics of the primordial linguistic system, namely the Indo-European-Semitic, it can still be fine-tuned with the purpose to either broaden or narrow the reach of some inspirational stimulus transmitted through English..."

The messenger started moving in my direction, looking deeply into my eyes. He, then, raised the tone of his voice. "...You have been brought to my presence with the purpose of having your English fine-tuned so as to adjust the reach of my inspirational stimulus."

Having said that, the messenger approached me and produced a mask which was placed over my face and mouth just before I blacked out.

Final part next...