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A portmanteau (plural: portmanteaus or portmanteaux) (IPA pronunciation: [pɔːt.mɑɹn'təʉ]) is a word or morpheme that fuses two or more words or parts of words to give a combined meaning. A folk usage of portmanteau refers to a word that is formed by combining both sounds and meanings from two or more words (e.g. "animatronics" from "animation" and "electronics"). Typically, portmanteau words are neologisms. One of the most well-known examples is cyborg, a term which is commonly used to refer to a cybernetic organism.

[edit] Etymology

This usage of the word was coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871). In the book, Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice words from Jabberwocky, saying, "Well, slithy means lithe and slimy ... You see it's like a portmanteau— there are two meanings packed up into one word." Carroll often used such words to a humorous effect in his work.

"Portmanteau", from Middle French "porter" (to carry) and "manteau" (a coat or cover), formerly referred to a large travelling bag or suitcase with two compartments, hence the linguistic idea of fusing two words and their meanings into one. "Portmanteau" is rarely used to refer to a suitcase in English any more, since that type of a suitcase has fallen into disuse. In French, the word has the different meaning of "coat hanger," and sometimes "coat rack," and is spelled "porte-manteau." The French word for "Portmanteau" is "mot valise", which translates literally as "suitcase word".

"Portmanteau word" was the original phrase used to describe such words (as listed in dictionaries published as late as the early 1990s), but this has since been abbreviated to simply "portmanteau" as the term (and the type of words it describes) gained popularity.

[edit] General summary

A portmanteau morpheme is a morpheme that fuses two grammatical categories (see Fusional language). The classical example of such a morpheme in English is the verbal suffix -s. This particular suffix carries (i.e., ports) at least four distinct inflectional meanings and imparts each of these onto the verb's meaning:

Spanish verb suffixes are also fusional, with very many portmanteaux in the Spanish inflectional system.

A portmanteau word is a word that fuses two function words. This use overlaps a bit with the folk term contraction, but linguists tend to avoid using the latter. Example: In French, à + les becomes aux (IPA: [o]), a single indivisible word that contains both meanings.

Outside linguistics, the words that are called blends are popularly labeled portmanteaux. The term portmanteau is used in a different, yet still not clearly defined sense, to refer to a blending of the parts of two or more words (generally the first part of one word and the ending of a second word) to combine their meanings into a single neologism. One of the more famous portmanteaux in postmodern Continental philosophy is différance. Coined by Jacques Derrida, différance is a term that combines the terms to differ and to defer (in the Saussurean sense) to describe the fractured and eternally-signifying character of language (see deconstruction).

In the entertainment industry, portmanteaux are often used to fuse together the names of television couples, especially on daytime soap operas where the trend began. Recently the media took the idea from fictional couples and began coining portmanteaux from the names of celebrity couples. The recent trend began with "Bennifer" (originally for Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, later revived as "Bennifer 2" or "Bennifer Jr." for Affleck and Jennifer Garner, who are now married); other widely used names include TomKat (for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), Brangelina (for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), and Vaughniston (for Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston). Satirist Stephen Colbert called attention to this trend by creating a portmanteau for William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman: "Filliam H. Muffman".

In politics, "Billary" was used during the early years of President Bill Clinton's administration regarding the active role played by Hillary Rodham Clinton.[1] Pokémon may be the best form of portmanteau, for almost all of the "imaginary cartoon animals'" (the Pokémon) names are portmanteaus.

It may be noted that, as some portmanteaus enter the lexicon as words in their own right, a double portmanteau becomes possible: for example, Vog is a portmanteau of Volcanic and Smog, while Smog is itself a portmanteau of Smoke and Fog.

[edit] See also

de:Kofferwort es:Portmanteau eo:Kofrovorto fr:Mot-valise it:Portmanteau he:הלחם hu:Szóösszerántás nl:Portmanteau ja:かばん語 no:Teleskopord pl:Portmanteau pt:Palavra-valise sv:Portmanteau


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