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PORTMANTEAU

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PORTMANTEAU

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:27 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, frowsty (frowsy + fusty. 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 trace 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 Slava » Mon Jul 02, 2012 9:41 pm

I would be interested in seeing the word mantel given a shot by the Good Doctor. Why is it a sleeveless garment?
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Postby Philip Hudson » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:22 pm

Lewis Carroll coined the phrase portmanteau word of which portmanteau is an example. If you have outgrown "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" then you have grown too much.

About a sleeveless mantle, Slava: Mantles are sleeveless as are capes, cloaks, togas and saris. It may go without saying. Is redundancy your point? If not, I don't follow you. Mantle would be a good Goodword.
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Postby Slava » Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:52 pm

First, I apologize for my misspelling, that should have been mantle, not mantel. It'd be a bit difficult to wear the latter, no?

My question about the sleevelessness of the garment is actually about the word. Is there something in its etymology that indicates a lack of sleeves?
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Sun Jul 08, 2012 12:09 pm

Sleevelessness being a word: is there a word/term
for the garment worn by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama?
and other monks? Is it sarong?
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Postby Philip Hudson » Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:38 am

I'm sure the Dalai Lama’s robe has a local name, but I do not know it. When you get to the sarong you are moving out of the field of sleeveless garments. A sarong is usually a long skirt worn by some southeastern Asians. In some countries only men wear them. In other countries, only women wear them. In other countries they are unisex. Sometimes western women call a skirt that covers a bathing suit a sarong.

We could move on to hula skirts but we have come a long weary way from mantle. A mantle, among many other definitions, is also a glowing filament in a kerosene or gasoline lamp. As a boy I did my homework by a kerosene mantle lamp.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Tue Jul 10, 2012 11:50 am

Again, a long way from mantle, but sleevelessness
is the trade-mark of Larry the Cable Guy.
*yeuch*.
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