Today I learned that blog is a portmanteau of the words – web log. But I don’t know what the word portmanteau means. According to dictionary.com it means:
a case or bag to carry clothing in while traveling, especially a leather trunk or suitcase that opens into two halves
I confess that I’m still having trouble drawing up a mental image, so I’ve searched Google Images to clarify things for me and not only did I get the picture, I got a fuller definition for the word.
And now I’m intrigued – what are the top 10 portmanteaux of the 21st century. A little bit of googling around and I learn that – go figure – it was Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass who coined the term (think CHORTLE = chuckle and snort). And all this before he died in 1898!
But technology has certainly expanded the list. Here’s a short list of some computing and internet (#ED21) portmanteaux words – how many do you know? How about your students?
- alphanumeric, from alphabetic and numeric
- bit, from binary and digit
- digerati, from digital and literati
- emoticon, from emotion and icon
- freeware, from free and software
- malware, from malicious and software
- modem, from modulator and demodulator
- netizen, from (Inter)net and citizen
- netiquette, from (Inter)net and etiquette (similarly, wikiquette)
- pixel, from picture and element
- vlog, from video and blog
- webcast, from Worldwide Web and broadcast
- webisode, from Worldwide Web and episode
Which has me thinking of an interesting idea for a creative classroom lesson. Explain what a portmanteau is to the students. Pick a topic, have students work in pairs or triplets, give them a set amount of time and then see how many creative new words they can coin. When the buzzer hits time – students will go around the room sharing. (It will be interesting to note same words from different groups)
Alternatively, have students compete against each other – “around the world” style and see how quickly students can think on their feet.
So now I’m wondering – what’s the Hebrew equivalent? How do you say blog, b’ivrit? OK – that’s too easy since it’s “blog” (say it with an Israeli accent). But what about Hebrew portmanteau words? Well, we can start with the alefbet, wind our way down the midrachov and see what other creations we might find along the way.
This blogger asks, Does it count as delusions of grandeur when you invent meaningless, useless words and expect people to use them? (check his site for the list of words).
I prefer the ad tag line – “when things are so nice, you need to invent words.”
Blog – it’s a web log – and it’s really nice! Check it out.