One of my favorite words is portmanteau, and not because it sounds like one of those fake towns in a steamy soap opera. (Okay, not only for that reason.)
A portmanteau is created when two existing words are blended to create a new word. Bromance, frenemy, ginormous and sexcellent are fantabulous examples of portmanteaus.
I love the spirit of this—an invitation to root around in the language and, if you can’t find something that expresses what you’re trying to say, to go ahead and disassemble a couple of existing words, duct tape them together and craft your own, brand-new word on the spot. It’s so…McGyver.
As much as portmanteau appeals to me (and, as a native though long-gone New Orleanian, I have a soft spot for pretty much any word ending in the Cajunesque –eau), I hesitated to embrace it as the title of this blog. I worried that it was a little too obscure, even a tad snooty for a website furnished with wall-to-wall shag.
I’m someone who agonizes over names. It can take me hours to set up an email account, to commit to a password. Although no one else may ever see them, these handles have to be relevant to my experiences, to feel like me, in order for me to commit to them. Without some kind of personal significance, the whole electronic transaction can seem hitched and misaligned, like wearing a stranger’s pants.
So I keep searching.
And then I find frankenword, portmanteau’s busted second cousin. The two words mean the same thing, but if portmanteau drives a Jaguar, then frankenword pulls up in a rusted-out Maxima that leaves a permanent oil stain on your driveway.
The frankenword—product of the combustible, imperfect creative process to which we all have access—lurches from the laboratory out into the streets, terrorizing parts of the citizenry while seducing others with its gap-toothed charm.
Now, we’re talkin’.