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May 24, 2011

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It's a veritable portmantocalypse!

(Sorry.)

I think this is just another sign of what I'm seeing in books and movies and TV -- attempts to be creative without being original. It seems like so few things being created these days are legitimately unique.

>if you want to treat your face as though it were a slab of cowhide, this is the product for you

Of, of course, you could just dip your face in cold tea. Which could be advertised as tea-licious. Or tea-lightful. Or ... or obviously I'm not in the ad business. :-)

And to bring things full circle, a slab of cowhide makes a really good strap for maintaining a classic straight razor, which is essential after an extended shave-cation.

Oooh, I came across a doozy last week. I get a catalog for aviation buffs that has books, models, and other stuff related to aircraft from World War II. One popular section of the catalog is books and decorative pieces related to the "nose art" on old warplanes, very often scantily-clad females, either riding bombs, or shooting six-guns, etc.

The romance copy for one of these pieces referred to them as "Patri-rotic" images. Agh!

http://www.historicaviation.com/product_info.po?ID=20142&category=ww&product=Home+D%C3%A9cor&subcategory=USAAF+Bombers

This is obviously a modern product, as the bikini didn't come along until after the war, and bikinis like THAT didn't come along until much later. "Patri-rotic", meanwhile, sounds very 2003 to me.

Honestly, if it scans, it works. "Braziliant" and "Vermillionaire" are fantastic, roll-off-the-tongue, witty portmanteaux (?). Shave-cation, on the other hand, just sucks.

And "Fancytastic" - well, that's just Chevro-lame.

The occasional portmanteau does work, but to do so it must not only be clever in the given context, but also be able to move into other contexts without becoming opaque. To do this it must evoke the original components clearly and the intended meaning should relate in a fairly obvious way to the meaning of these components. Does "Brazilliant" refer to Carnaval in Rio, or an especially shiny-smooth bikini wax? No, it's an orangy-red nail polish?! (What does orangy-red have to do with Brazil?)

The vast majority of portmanteaux being proffered in the current craze end up being meaningless a half an hour after you hear them. If I had the power, I would declare a moratorium on all portmanteaux for at least five years (and please don't call it a portmantorium).

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