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PORTMANTEAU

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PORTMANTEAU

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:18 pm

• portmanteau •

Pronunciation: port-mên-toHear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A suitcase that opens into two compartments connected at the bottom by a hinge. 2. (Language) A blend, two words or morphemes that have been smushed together, as smog is a portmanteau word made up of smoke and fog.

Notes: This word is used so infrequently that neither the spelling nor pronunciation has changed since it was borrowed in the 16th century. Look out for the French accent on the last syllable. In fact, watch the spelling of that syllable, too: in French it takes three vowels, [eau] to express [o]. We do use the English plural, portmanteaus.

In Play: This is such a rare substitute for suitcase that it is used for a wide variety of valises and carrying cases: "The grandchildren always exhibited a great curiosity about what Grandpa would pull out of his portmanteau when he visited." When it comes to words, however, it is the lay term for what linguists (including me) call "blends", such as motel (motor + hotel), chortle (chuckle + snort), chingo (chat + lingo), and a recent Good Word, IMglish (IM + English). Contrary to popular belief, creating new portmanteaus is a relatively rare means of adding vocabulary to English because it is so unpredictable.

Word History: Today's word is one we traced directly from French portemanteau, a compound based on porter "to carry" + manteau "cloak, mantle, sleeveless coat". (The French let us have it; they now use valise instead of portmanteau.) In fact, manteau is the Modern French pronunciation of Old French mantel, which English also borrowed as mantle, preserving the original pronunciation. Old French inherited mantel from Latin mantellum "cloth, napkin, mantle". Where the Latin word came from is anyone's guess, though the origin is probably Celtic. (Today we thank Sally Capotosto for unpacking this fascinating word and suggesting we use it.)
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Postby gailr » Wed Oct 11, 2006 11:48 pm

"Well, 'SLITHY' means 'lithe and slimy'. 'Lithe' is the same as 'active'. You see it's like a portmanteau--there are two meanings packed up into one word."
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Postby Perry » Thu Oct 12, 2006 9:47 am

I remember using this word (in French) for a coathook. what would also be called in Italian an atacpanni (spelling uncertain).
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Postby Stargzer » Thu Oct 12, 2006 4:03 pm

Portmanteau is all well and good, but what would a Starboardmanteau be? Is Portmanteau reserverd for Liberals such as George Soros and Starboardmantaeau for the likes of Sean Hannity?

I think it's high time for a glass of port!
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Postby sluggo » Fri Oct 13, 2006 12:57 am

To be or not to be confused with the Italian musical term portamento (pl. portamenti), a slide or slur between notes
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Postby gailr » Fri Oct 13, 2006 6:53 am

Stargzer wrote:I think it's high time for a glass of port!
Too much of that away from home, and you might encounter a portcullis of sorts.
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Postby skinem » Sun Oct 15, 2006 11:58 am

Any port in a storm! Since I'm not a drinker, it might be tough to comport myself with great deportment while drinking port.


Skinem--home and lovin' it after too many days in a portmanteau example from hell (Hotel de Eeww).
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Postby Palewriter » Sun Oct 15, 2006 6:22 pm

All of which brings to mind one of the great ad lines of all time:

"A port in every girl."


-- PW
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Postby Stargzer » Mon Oct 16, 2006 2:58 am

Although a certain Flanders and Swan character would have taken issue with that. :D
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Postby sluggo » Mon Oct 16, 2006 10:26 am

Stargzer wrote:Although a certain Flanders and Swan character would have taken issue with that. :D


Yike, British Music Hall! What next?
my favourite rhyme here:
And Port is a wine I can well do without;
It's simply a case of Chacun a son GOUT!
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Postby Palewriter » Mon Oct 16, 2006 2:04 pm

sluggo wrote:
Stargzer wrote:Although a certain Flanders and Swan character would have taken issue with that. :D


Yike, British Music Hall! What next?
my favourite rhyme here:
And Port is a wine I can well do without;
It's simply a case of Chacun a son GOUT!


Music Hall? I'm not sure F&S quite fall into that musical genre. Regardless, this song is one of my all-time favorites, though it should probably have been called Have Some Zeugmas, M'Dear.

:-)


-- PW
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Postby sluggo » Mon Oct 16, 2006 2:47 pm

Palewriter wrote:
sluggo wrote:
Stargzer wrote:Although a certain Flanders and Swan character would have taken issue with that. :D


Yike, British Music Hall! What next?
my favourite rhyme here:
And Port is a wine I can well do without;
It's simply a case of Chacun a son GOUT!


Music Hall? I'm not sure F&S quite fall into that musical genre. Regardless, this song is one of my all-time favorites, though it should probably have been called Have Some Zeugmas, M'Dear.

:-)


-- PW


Mayhap I'm confusing F&S with the version of the song I'm most familiar with -which artiste is fading into unsurety in my head...

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Postby Perry » Mon Oct 16, 2006 4:07 pm

It is definitely authored by Flanders and Swan, although others have covered it.

As for have zeugmas, m'dear..well not quite.

"Have some Madeira M'Dear" — a song about seduction, full of complex word-play, including three oft-quoted examples of syllepsis.


Syllepsis is somewhat related to the figure zeugma, but in the latter the modifier does not always logically fit one of the words it modifies.
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Postby gailr » Mon Oct 16, 2006 6:02 pm

Good link, Perry, but the related link to Zeugma is missing a definition for the Montezeugma.
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Postby Palewriter » Tue Oct 17, 2006 12:46 am

Perry wrote:It is definitely authored by Flanders and Swan, although others have covered it.

As for have zeugmas, m'dear..well not quite.

"Have some Madeira M'Dear" — a song about seduction, full of complex word-play, including three oft-quoted examples of syllepsis.


Syllepsis is somewhat related to the figure zeugma, but in the latter the modifier does not always logically fit one of the words it modifies.


It's Swann, not Swan. From "At the Drop of a Hat" (1960). I think I played the LP until the tracks wore out. I can still render entire songs from memory, though I certainly can't claim to do them any real musical justice.

According to Webster, the 'zeugma' description stands, though it's certainly a less precise term than 'syllepsis' in this case. I think the key, though, is "...does not always logically fit..." To me, the latter term is really a subset of the former.

Did you notice the term "lughole" at the end of the song? One of my very favorite words. Probably because I was often threatened with "a clip round the lughole" as a wee'un. Apparently it's related to Swedish lugg (forelock), as in "something that can be held/grabbed". All according to the OEtD. Rather odd etymology, really.

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