My new favourite word is portmanteau. I think the word itself is pretty great but the meaning/s are also great.
A portmanteau is a suitcase with two compartments, and a portmanteau word is something like a contraction when two words are blended. The word was first used in this way by Lewis Carrol in Through the Looking Glass. I will let Wikipedia explain:
The usage of the word ‘portmanteau’ in this sense first appeared in Lewis Carroll‘s book Through the Looking-Glass (1871), in which Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice the coinage of the unusual words in Jabberwocky:
- “‘slithy’ means ‘lithe and slimy’… You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word”
- “‘Mimsy’ is ‘flimsy and miserable’ (there’s another portmanteau … for you)”.
Indonesians love portmanteau words. They make there way into formal language all the time. I think these examples might be contractions rather than portmanteau words, but I’d rather not be a stickler if being a stickler means excluding myself from using my new favourite word.
For example: partai politik (political party) becomes Parpol. And that’s just the beginning. If a phrase cannot be made into an acronym (also a favourite in Indonesia) it will become a portmaneau word.
An example of something that is half way between an acronym and a portmanteau (can a linguist help me out here?):
Badan Perencanaan dan Pembangunan Nasional becomes Bappenas. Efficient isn’t it!
I think I will create a list of Indonesian portmanteau words. But first I will do some work…