Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Cramming it in

A comment in the link roundup piece below mentions "portmanteau words" and notes the different meaning of Kilpatrick's "portmanteau sentences."

It's been awhile since I've heard "portmanteau words," and I looked up the origin to see if there's a link.

Portmanteau words are the same as blend words, those coined by combining two other words in form and meaning: brunch, smog, chortle. The term was coined by Lewis Carroll in "Through the Looking-Glass": "You see it's like a portmanteau -- there are two meanings packed up into one word." (Humpty Dumpty is explaining slithy, a blend of lithe and slimy.

My dictionary defintes portmanteau as "a traveling case or bag; esp., a stiff leather suitcase that opens like a book into two compartments."

Kilpatrick had this to say about portmanteaus:
Those were Portmanteau Sentences, so named for the 16th-century suitcase. It was huge. You could pack everything into a portmanteau. Without pausing for a burp, it could swallow 10 suits, six robes, four pairs of shoes, a month's worth of underwear and three fifths of Scotch.
I think I first heard the term "suitcase sentences" to describe the same thing from writing coach Steve Buttry, but the term is used elsewhere.


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