A blend (sometimes blend word, lexical blend, portmanteau or portmanteau word) is a word formed from parts of two or more other words. At least one of these parts is not a morph (the realization of a morpheme) but instead a mere splinter, a fragment that is normally meaningless:
In [words such as motel, boatel and Lorry-Tel], hotel is represented by various shorter substitutes – ‑otel, ‑tel or ‑el – which I shall call splinters. Words containing splinters I shall call blends.[n 1]
Blends of two or more words may be classified from each of three viewpoints: morphotactic, morphonological, and morphosemantic.
Blends may be classified morphotactically into two kinds: total and partial.
In a total blend, each of the words creating the blend is reduced to a mere splinter. Some linguists limit blends to these (perhaps with additional conditions): for example, Ingo Plag considers "proper blends" to be total blends that semantically are coordinate, the remainder being "shortened compounds".
Commonly for English blends, the beginning of one word is followed by the end of another:
Much less commonly in English, the beginning of one word may be followed by the beginning of another:
Unusually in English, the end of one word may be followed by the end of another:
They are sometimes termed intercalative blends.
An entire word may be followed by a splinter:
A splinter may be followed by an entire word:
An entire word may replace part of another:
Morphonologically, blends fall into two kinds: overlapping and non-overlapping.
Overlapping blends are those for which the ingredients' consonants, vowels or even syllables overlap to some extent. The overlap can be of different kinds. These are also called haplologic blends.
There may be an overlap that is both phonological and orthographic, but with no other shortening:
The overlap may be both phonological and orthographic, and with some additional shortening to at least one of the ingredients:
Such an overlap may be discontinuous:
It can occur with three components:
- camisade + cannibalism + ballistics → camibalistics[n 6]
- meander + Neanderthal + tale → meandertale[n 6]
The phonological overlap need not also be orthographic:
If the phonological but non-orthographic overlap encompasses the whole of the shorter ingredient, as in
then the effect depends on orthography alone. (They are also called orthographic blends.)
An orthographic overlap need not also be phonological:
For some linguists, an overlap is a condition for a blend.
Non-overlapping blends (also called substitution blends) have no overlap, whether phonological or orthographic:
Morphosemantically, blends fall into two kinds: attributive and coordinate.
Attributive blends (also called syntactic or telescope blends) are those in which one of the ingredients is the head and the other is attributive. A porta-light is a portable light, not a light-emitting or light portability; light is the head. A snobject is a snobbery-satisfying object and not an objective or other kind of snob; object is the head.
As is also true for (conventional, non-blend) attributive compounds (among which bathroom, for example, is a kind of room, not a kind of bath), the attributive blends of English are mostly right-headed and mostly endocentric. As an example of an exocentric attributive blend, Fruitopia may metaphorically take the buyer to a fruity utopia (and not a utopian fruit); however, it is not a utopia but a drink.
Coordinate blends (also called associative or portmanteau blends) combine two words having equal status, and have two heads. Thus brunch is neither a breakfasty lunch nor a lunchtime breakfast but instead some hybrid of breakfast and lunch; Oxbridge is equally Oxford and Cambridge universities. This too parallels (conventional, non-blend) compounds: an actor–director is equally an actor and a director.
Two kinds of coordinate blends are particularly conspicuous: those that combine (near‑) synonyms:
- gigantic + enormous → ginormous
- insinuation + innuendo → insinuendo
and those that combine (near‑) opposites:
- transmitter + receiver → transceiver
- friend + enemy → frenemy
Blending of two roots
- "Israeli דחפור dakhpór 'bulldozer' hybridizes (Mishnaic Hebrew>>)Israeli דחפ √dħp 'push' and (Biblical Hebrew>>)Israeli חפר √ħpr 'dig'[...]
- Israeli שלטוט shiltút 'zapping, surfing the channels, flipping through the channels' derives from
- (i) (Hebrew>)Israeli שלט shalát 'remote control', an ellipsis – like English remote (but using the noun instead) – of the (widely known) compound שלט רחוק shalát rakhók – cf. the Academy of the Hebrew Language's שלט רחק shalát rákhak; and
- (ii) (Hebrew>)Israeli שטוט shitút 'wandering, vagrancy'. Israeli שלטוט shiltút was introduced by the Academy of the Hebrew Language in [...] 1996. Synchronically, it might appear to result from reduplication of the final consonant of shalát 'remote control'.
- Another example of blending which has also been explained as mere reduplication is Israeli גחלילית gakhlilít 'fire-fly, glow-fly, Lampyris'. This coinage by Hayyim Nahman Bialik blends (Hebrew>)Israeli גחלת gakhélet 'burning coal' with (Hebrew>)Israeli לילה láyla 'night'. Compare this with the unblended חכלילית khakhlilít '(black) redstart, Phœnicurus' (<<Biblical Hebrew חכליל 'dull red, reddish'). Synchronically speaking though, most native Israeli-speakers feel that gakhlilít includes a reduplication of the third radical of גחל √għl. This is incidentally how Ernest Klein explains gakhlilít. Since he is attempting to provide etymology, his description might be misleading if one agrees that Hayyim Nahman Bialik had blending in mind."
"There are two possible etymological analyses for Israeli Hebrew כספר kaspár 'bank clerk, teller'. The first is that it consists of (Hebrew>)Israeli כסף késef 'money' and the (International/Hebrew>)Israeli agentive suffix ר- -ár. The second is that it is a quasi-portmanteau word which blends כסף késef 'money' and (Hebrew>)Israeli ספר √spr 'count'. Israeli Hebrew כספר kaspár started as a brand name but soon entered the common language. Even if the second analysis is the correct one, the final syllable ר- -ár apparently facilitated nativization since it was regarded as the Hebrew suffix ר- -år (probably of Persian pedigree), which usually refers to craftsmen and professionals, for instance as in Mendele Mocher Sforim's coinage סמרטוטר smartutár 'rag-dealer'."
Blending may occur with an error in lexical selection, the process by which a speaker uses his semantic knowledge to choose words. Lewis Carroll's explanation, which gave rise to the use of 'portmanteau' for such combinations, was:
Humpty Dumpty's theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all. For instance, take the two words "fuming" and "furious." Make up your mind that you will say both words ... you will say "frumious."
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Some languages, like Japanese, encourage the shortening and merging of borrowed foreign words (as in gairaigo), because they are long or difficult to pronounce in the target language. For example, karaoke, a combination of the Japanese word kara (meaning empty) and the clipped form oke of the English loanword "orchestra" (J. ōkesutora オーケストラ), is a Japanese blend that has entered the English language. The Vietnamese language also encourages blend words formed from Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary. For example, the term Việt Cộng is derived from the first syllables of "Việt Nam" (Vietnam) and "Cộng sản" (communist).
Many corporate brand names, trademarks, and initiatives, as well as names of corporations and organizations themselves, are blends. For example, Wiktionary, one of Wikipedia's sister projects, is a blend of wiki and dictionary.
- Acronym and initialism
- Amalgamation (names)
- Clipping (morphology)
- Conceptual blending
- Hybrid word
- Phono-semantic matching
- Syllabic abbreviation
- Wiktionary category:English blends
- Adams attributes the term splinter to J. M. Berman, "Contribution on blending," Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik 9 (1961), 278–281.
- Example provided by Mattiello of a blend of this kind.
- Example provided by Mattiello of a blend of this kind. (Etymologically, fan is a clipping of fanatic; but it has since become lexicalized.)
- Elisa Mattiello, "Lexical index." Appendix (pp. 287–329) to Extra-grammatical Morphology in English: Abbreviations, Blends, Reduplicatives, and Related Phenomena (Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2013; doi:10.1515/9783110295399; ISBN 978-3-11-029539-9).
- Example provided by Mattiello of a blend of this kind, slightly amended.
- Example provided by Mattiello of a blend of this kind. The word is found in Finnegans Wake; Mattiello credits Almuth Grésillon, La règle et le monstre: Le mot-valise. Interrogations sur la langue, à partir d'un corpus de Heinrich Heine (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1984), 15, for bringing it to her attention.
- Valerie Adams, An Introduction to Modern English Word-Formation (Harlow, Essex: Longman, 1973; ISBN 0-582-55042-4), 142.
- Elisa Mattiello, "Blends." Chap. 4 (pp. 111–140) of Extra-grammatical Morphology in English: Abbreviations, Blends, Reduplicatives, and Related Phenomena (Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2013; doi:10.1515/9783110295399; ISBN 978-3-11-029539-9).
- Ingo Plag, Word Formation in English (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003; ISBN 0-521-81959-8, ISBN 0-521-52563-2), 121–126.
- Stefan Th. Gries, "Quantitative corpus data on blend formation: Psycho- and cognitive-linguistic perspectives", in Vincent Renner, François Maniez, Pierre Arnaud, eds, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Lexical Blending (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012; ISBN 978-3-11-028923-7), 145–168.
- Laurie Bauer, "Blends: Core and periphery", in Vincent Renner, François Maniez, Pierre Arnaud, eds, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Lexical Blending (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012; ISBN 978-3-11-028923-7), 11–22.
- Outi Bat-El and Evan-Gary Cohen, "Stress in English blends: A constraint-based analysis", in Vincent Renner, François Maniez, Pierre Arnaud, eds, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Lexical Blending (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012; ISBN 978-3-11-028923-7)
- Suzanne Kemmer, "Schemas and lexical blends." In Hubert C. Cuyckens et al., eds, Motivation in Language: From Case Grammar to Cognitive Linguistics: Studies in Honour of Günter Radden (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2003; ISBN 9789027247551, ISBN 9781588114266).
- Angela Ralli and George J. Xydopoulos, "Blend formation in Modern Greek", in Vincent Renner, François Maniez, Pierre Arnaud, eds, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Lexical Blending (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012; ISBN 978-3-11-028923-7), 35–50.
- Harold Wentworth, "'Sandwich' words and rime-caused nonce words", West Virginia University Bulletin: Philological Studies 3 (1939), 65–71; cited in Algeo, John (1977). "Blends, a Structural and Systemic View". American Speech. 52 (1/2): 47–64. doi:10.2307/454719. JSTOR 454719.
- Francis A. Wood, "Iteratives, blends, and 'Streckformen'," Modern Philology 9 (1911), 157–194.
- Algeo, John (1977). "Blends, a Structural and Systemic View". American Speech. 52 (1/2): 47–64. doi:10.2307/454719. JSTOR 454719.
- Michael H. Kelly, "To 'brunch' or to 'brench': Some aspects of blend structure," Linguistics 36 (1998), 579–590.
- Adrienne Lehrer, "Blendalicious," in Judith Munat, ed., Lexical Creativity, Texts and Contexts (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2007; ISBN 9789027215673), 115–133.
- Giorgio-Francesco Arcodia and Fabio Montermini, "Are reduced compounds compounds? Morphological and prosodic properties of reduced compounds in Russian and Mandarin Chinese", in Vincent Renner, François Maniez, Pierre Arnaud, eds, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Lexical Blending (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012; ISBN 978-3-11-028923-7), 93–114.
- Klein, Ernest (1987). A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language. Jerusalem: Carta. See p. 97.
- Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2003). Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 66. ISBN 978-1403917232.
- Zuckermann 2003, p. 67.
- Carroll, Lewis (2009). Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-955829-2.
- Fromkin, Victoria; Rodman, R.; Hyams, Nina (2007). An Introduction to Language (8th ed.). Boston: Thomson Wadsworth. ISBN 978-1-4130-1773-1.
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