This week’s literary word or phrase is
Portmanteau; cloak-carrier, from the French porter, to carry + manteau, cloak; or, for the Literary Man’s purposes, a blend of two or more words into a single meaningful word, such as fog + smoke = smog, or two words like breast + testicle into a meaningless word like breasticle.
Very few things matter more to the Literary Man than inventing witty portmanteaux. And yet, somehow, his arch-frenemy, the Portly Producer, always thinks of them first.
“It’s fraturday,” the Portly Producer said, last Saturday morning over brunch with the Literary Man, Verbal Vixen, and several other literary friends. “Blah blah blah blah,” the Portly Producer continued cheerfully, as everyone (except the Literary Man) laughed at his witty portmanteau, which had obviously come from the word Saturday and Fraternity, and whose meaning implied a day or festival in which one might overindulge in alcohol, food, or women without consequence. The Portly Producer also claims to have invented the habit of procrasturbation, whose meaning should be obvious to any educated person.
The Portly Producer — whose weight problem can no longer be ignored — is a good, old friend of the Literary Man’s. However, the Portly Producer works in television, which is anathema to the Literary Man’s cultural aesthetic and search for sophistication. Still, a literary friendship is hard to come by these days, and the Literary Man can always count on the Portly Producer for a enlivergating, bourbon-y argument about the merits of Kerouac versus Burroughs, or more likely, Chandler versus Ellroy, as the Portly Producer not-so-secretly fashions himself an expert in all things “noir.”
These are some very important examples of portmanteaux:
wiki + encyclopedia = wikipedia
jeans + black-jean-shorts = blajorts
chicken + duck + turkey = turducken
quail + alienation + turkey = turqualienation (emotional state regularly experienced by “bird people” in city parks).
English + Spanish = Taco Bell
These are some geographical examples of portmanteaux:
California + Mexico = Calexico
Kentucky + Indiana = Kentuckiana
Alabama + Florida = Floribama
Dakota + Oklahoma = D’Oklahoma
Texas + Arkansas = A Very, Very Depressing Place
Arizona + Texas = Arizexas (worth a helluva lot of Scrabble points)
California + Oregon = Califoregon (almost too convenient)
Mississippi + Massachusetts + Appalachia = Massapachippia
Phew. What a list!
This week’s (disturbing) wikipedia article is Birdman.