Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Portmanteaus or where is the faction section?

While checking out Into the Wild at the library, the clerk told me that he heard it was a good piece of faction. I figured I hadn't heard him correctly, but in response to my quizzical look, he said, "You know, fact-based fiction - faction." I pointed out the 917.98 call number and mumbled something about it being non-fiction, but figured the people in the growing line behind me weren't interested in this discussion.

I did think about this on the way home, and it seemed odd that someone working in a library didn't understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction, and was also making up a classification  that this particular book didn't even belong in. He is a teenager with an after-school job so this wasn't the end of the world. But after hearing about faction, it seemed that I noticed portmanteaus (combinations of two or more words and their meanings into a single new word) everywhere. With the epic lake effect storm in Buffalo came snowmageddon, snowpocalypse, snowverkill, snowvember, snowmergency, and snowmania. I heard stagflation (stagnation + inflation) used in a discussion about Ben Bernanke. A woman buying donuts at the convenience store told the clerk she was hangry; I had to look this one up and found that it means your extreme hunger has caused you to be angry. While searching for music gifts for a young teenager I came across the song Alcoholiday.

There are some portmanteaus that seem natural and descriptive to me, like brunch, jackalope, smog, and moped. I'll admit we have and use sporks, but metrosexual and hangry just seem silly to me, clear examples of poormanteaus!


  1. Hangry is actually one of my favorites. As for faction - I'd probably fire someone over that! :-)

  2. "Hangry" is a new portmanteaus in my vocabulary, even though, I have experienced it on occasion. I've heard language is a living thing, always changing, and evolving. Your point certainly brings that home.

  3. eep, new words! I fantabulous and such always show how the language culture is evolving--happy thanksgiving!!!

  4. what a hoot! I love how language evolves, but have to agree, a few of those new words are just plain stupid!

  5. That is a great post! (Grost?) and faction...just plain wrong!


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