THE INCOMPLEATE DISHIONARY: Portmanteaus of Joy and Pain

25 Oct

I’m so in love with words, I just have to share ’em
Might just make a word-suit so that I can wear ’em
I love the sound of “love” and “hugs”
And although some might fear ’em
I love to find the words I love
And pear, or pare, or pair ’em

AC Tweet pic Buster_Keaton_The_Scarecrow_1920

HE: Darling, can I shlove you?
SHE: Have you been drinking?
HE: No. I just want to make love, then shove you out the door.

What’s In A Portmanteau?
You probably make up portmanteaus or use them every day. It’s a linguistic blend of words. You take parts of multiple words and their meanings and coin a new word.

A few examples:

Brad Pitt + Angelina Jolie= Brangelina
motor+ hotel= motel
breakfast + lunch= brunch
Ebony + Phonics= Ebonics
iPod + broadcast= Podcast
Labrador retriever + Poodle= Labradoodle
metropolitan + heterosexual= metrosexual
jazz + exercise= jazzercise
tofu + turkey= tofurky
chill + relax= chillax
sex + texting= sexting

You get the idea. If you like these and want to see more–especially the more graphic examples–visit our friends at Wikipedia. https://en.
Brad and Angelina

The French word “portmanteau” is a suitcase that opens into two equal halves. So a verbal portmanteau combines the sounds and the meanings of both, such as “BLOG” which is (allegedly) a combination of “web” and “log.”

According to Wikipedia, the use of portmanteau as applied to words, was coined by Lewis Carroll in 1872, based on “the concept of two words packed together” like a portmanteau suitcase.

“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.”
Through The Looking Glass (Chapter VI. Humpty Dumpty)

German Portmanteaus. The Germans seem to have a word for everything. My favorite portmanteau to pronounce but not ever to practice–is the German word schadenfruede (pronounced shaad–en–froyd–uh with the emphasis on the first syllable.) That “uh” on the end is an important part of the pronunciation and is sometimes referred to as the German grunt.

The word is a combo of the German “schaden” for damage, harm or injury, and “freude” or joy. defines Schadenfreude as  “the satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune or simply put, “the joy of damage.” The first example I ever heard of decades ago was a theatrical reference: the joy that an understudy in a play or chorus line feels when the star breaks her leg or becomes ill and cannot perform. Bingo. The understudy become the star for a night or week.

“What a fearful thing is it that any language should have a word expressive of the pleasure which men feel at the calamities of others,” wrote Richard C. Trench in 1852 in The Study of Words. I agree, but what is more fearful is the growing popularity of schadenfreude in thought, word and deed, throughout the world.

Things you find while looking up other things.  Not coincidentally, while checking out portmanteaus, I found the word Weltschmerz (pronounced velt-shmerts) loosely translated as “world pain.” The concept was coined by Jean Paul Richter, and refers to the “sorrow that one feels and accepts as one’s necessary fate.” The person feels that his or her physical reality will never be as serene as the world he had imagined.

Oliver Burkeman (@oliverburkeman) writing for The Guardian in January, 2015, broadens the definition with current references to the genre of pain the world is feeling these days.  He recalls the string of horrific incidents just months before including the Charlie Hebdo shootings, ISIS atrocities, new revelations of CIA torture and numerous incidents of police brutality, most notably in Ferguson.

Burkeman cites former Obama staffer Ari Ratner who called for a revival of the word weltschmerz. It was the one [word] we needed now, Ratner wrote, “because it encapsulates a sense of grief at how the world keeps falling short of expectations.”

Unlike the words angst or ennui, Ratner points out, “Weltschmerz springs precisely from seeing that things could and should be better.” What is so sad is things just seem to worsen, to wit, the recent attacks in Paris and the shootings in San Bernardino, CA.

But as Burkeman writes,”…though it’s unpleasant, the inability to feel [empathetic grief and pain] is an extremely dangerous disorder. World pain is bad, but numbness to world pain would be worse.”

Edmund Burke, the 18th century political philosopher, is credited with both of these relevant world pain reminders:

“Early and provident fear is the mother of safety.”
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered.  -Edmund Burke

Keep thinking good thoughts and don’t be dumb or numb.

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