Enough with the Portmanteaus, Already

Have you noticed this trend of combining words (e.g. bromance, chillax, staycation)? It’s the new big thing. Instead of being witty, charming, or funny, you can simply take two words, cram them together, and call yourself clever. Great, isn’t it? Not really, no. As a matter of fact, I find it insufferable. Granted, in the cosmic scheme of things, people using trendy idioms in their speech and writing is no big deal.

Why isn't there one for fuck + you?

But that’s not what we do here. At DelSquacho, we take minor annoyances and blow them way the fuck out of proportion so that, by comparison, legitimate problems like world hunger, genocide, and child slavery seem like small potatoes. We do this because we’re pedantic assholes.

There was a time when you would see these things in third-class rags filled with poorly written, cutesy-fuck garbage like Cosmo. Unfortunately portmanteaus have now permeated all media so that we’re under constant barrage of stupidity from newspapers, magazines, television, radio, books, and films. Not that we’re not already getting bombarded with an omnipresent fusillade of retardation, of course. Combination word fever is just making it worse.

The worst part of this trend is that people who use these combined words think they’re being witty or at least funny. Unfortunately for those of us who have to hear people using them, even ironically, they are neither. In fact, I would be confident in saying that portmanteaus are the Bataan Death March of wit: a painful, seemingly never-ending affair that makes one envy the dead.

I’m curious where this stupid trend came from (other than Lewis Carroll, of course). I suspect that it stems from the equally irritating tendency to needlessly shorten words (e.g. vacation becomes “vaca”, beverage becomes “bevy”) that’s saturating our language in a foul cloud of laziness and stupidity.

Interestingly, lot of these terms appear to originate from an attempt to blur the lines between the sexes, or at least to prove just how damn secure in their sexuality men are these days by equating normal activities with homosexual relationships. I’m just waiting for the day when meeting a buddy at the bar to watch a football game is referred to as “Having consensual, anal intercourse with a same-sex partner”. It’s only a matter of time.

Why can’t fellas just be fellas? Why can’t we just shower and shave? Is “manscaping” really necessary? Do guys really need to go on “man-dates”? Couldn’t they just do what guys have always done and just hang out with each other? I’m not even really sure what man-dating is supposed to mean. On a man-date, are the men supposed to kiss afterward? If it goes well, will they have sex? I suppose if they both had “man-crushes” on one another, they could always start a “bromance”. The only question left would be which one would have to wear the “guyliner”.

I don’t really know why guyliner is a thing, but it is and we all have to live with it.

There are even a whole class of these words for the current recession, like “funemployment” or “recessionista”. I understand that they’re used to try to make the best of a terrible situation, but if I lost my job because of some corporate chicanery or poorly-run financial implosion, I’d be less than thrilled to be told that I should call myself “funemployed”, and consider this an opportunity to explore new hobbies and/or chase my dreams. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people simply can’t afford that bullshit. We’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed. We can’t just drop everything and start doing Civil War re-enactments or building scale model railroads instead of working.

Before you know it, people will no longer be homeless, squatting in rundown abandoned factories in dangerous urban hellholes and giving handjobs for meth. They’ll have a great  new “destitude” about life while they’re being “crashionistas”. They’ll pursue exciting careers as “manwhores” to facilitate their burgeoning “dependecadence” on methamphetamines. Sure, it’ll still be an awful, brutish life, but at least they’ll have idiotic words with which to describe their utter misery.

This has been Dave sayin': “I eat stickers all the time!”

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47 Comments

  1. Posted October 20, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Say what you will; I still think “bro-job” is undeniably hilarious.

  2. Posted October 20, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    @ Jesse

    I don’t know if I want to know what a bro-job is.

  3. Enough
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Enough of this ridiculous blog on Digg already. It’s a stupid waste of space. No idea who said you were a good writer, Dave, but they were wrong.

  4. Posted October 20, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    @ Enough

    Several people have said that, oddly enough. I’ve even won an award. Isn’t that something?

  5. Posted October 20, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think my husband would be very happy if when he went out with the guys… I referred to it as a “man-date”.

  6. Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    That article was good-funny…… wait I’m not getting this am I?! ;) x

  7. Anonymous
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    i guess if you have to complain about something, make it something meaningless

  8. Joeroe
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Comsidering that many English words are just Greek/Latin words stuck together, you make no real sense in declaring a portmanteau a vapid waste of intellect. Shakespeare invented a lot of words by splicing some together. Stop worrying about vernacular trends, you aren’t doing anyone a favor by trying to shit on the made-up-word parade.

  9. Me
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

    Your target audience had bigger issues to resolve and your tips are fit for those who can at least read a full sentence without losing concentration.

  10. Mr. Manteau
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Wow, 15 words in our entire vernacular. Leave the unnecessary anger to Maddox and Lewis Black.

  11. Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    You seem to be masking your own homoerotic desires in a homophobic, structuralist diatribe that lacks clarity, suasion, and logic.

    Good day.

  12. Malboro Man
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Ha ha! That cat’s smoking a cigarette.

  13. Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    As a travel editor, I’ve been battling the use of “staycation” for a few years now.

  14. lisa
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Love the article, enjoyed the writing and you made me laugh about a subject I get just as finicky and irritated about. My experience is that people who shorten words like “bevy” and “mickeyD’s” (for McDonalds) are always people with nothing important in their lives that they have to hurry for, so WTF are they wrecking our language for?
    And just my opinion, but it seems to me that only a fool would take the time to register and leave a comment just to tell you that you should focus on something that matters.

  15. Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    We write the language, the language does not exist as an inviolate code written in stone. How can you say this about a language that is basically the cobbled slang of the entire European culture that is quickly absorbing the slang of the rest of the world? Don’t like it, learn Latin, that shit never changes.

  16. Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    “a poorly-run financial implosion.” Let’s call the department of redundancy department on that one. I wonder what a “well-run financial implosion” looks like. Anyway, this article would have been better if you took a scholarly approach and actually analyzed why and how the trend for portmanteaus developed in U.S. culture. Perhaps you really are “pedantic”…trying to be smart, without actually being smart. Interestingly, portmanteaus as language construction have existed in Japan for hundreds of years; they are a way of combining complex concepts into the most economical forms of expression. Why is that a bad thing? I do have praise for your article though, the words “vaca” and “bevy” are about as dumb as dumb can get.

  17. Anonymous
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    Before you rant, you may want to take a minute and learn a little about that which you are ranting about. The “-ista” suffix is something common in all languages with Latin influence. Spanish and Italian, I know, use the “-ista” suffix as a way to turn an object noun into a person noun. This suffix is commonly seen in english as “-man” (i.e. fisherman, fireman), but always acts as a way to call someone based on what they do.

    Also, you didn’t say that. Charlie Day said that in the The Gang Goes on a Road Trip episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

  18. Posted October 20, 2009 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure that the first instance of this was from the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez romance when they were coined as ‘Bennifer’. That was the first time I saw the word mashup used, at least.

  19. Anon
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Holy shitballs, batman! Call yourself a pedantic asshole and all of the other pedantic assholes come out of the woodwork to out-pedantic-asshole you.

    I enjoyed your article, Dave. Fuck the haters.

  20. Loathing
    Posted October 20, 2009 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    I agree, in fact this portmanteau trend makes me so angry that I had to invent my own portmanteau to describe it. I feel “Spitred” that’s spite plus hatred.

    Also FTW is mirror of WTF, which really, makes sense.

  21. Anonymous
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 2:05 am | Permalink

    You’re just mad you haven’t created a really good one yet.

  22. Bromie
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    And once you start in with the guyliner, then comes the manscara!

  23. annie
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    I agree with this article 100%. Hearing those crappy made-up “words” is like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard for me. I have found that invariably it’s people who are desperate to prove they are trendier-than-thou who use those words. Complete idiots.

  24. tayyabr
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    nice :p…….

  25. Posted October 21, 2009 at 1:41 pm | Permalink
  26. Posted October 21, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    This post is ginormous! What the magnficawesomeness… i love it!

  27. jayne
    Posted October 21, 2009 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    While Hollywood mash-ups drive me insane (Brangelina, etc.), many of the stores and restaurants you likely frequent are portmanteaus: Walmart, Verizon, Microsoft, Amtrak, Texaco, just to name a few. You might also fail to realize that common words actually originated as portmanteaux: spork, motel, modem.
    Maybe your rant is misdirected. What is at the root of your anger? Because it certainly isn’t portmanteaus.

  28. Posted October 22, 2009 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    @ Jayne
    Holy fuck, spork is made up of two words? Which ones? Sword and pork? I don’t even know.

  29. Posted October 22, 2009 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Lets call a Portmantruce…

  30. Posted October 22, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    @ Girl

    Sounds good to me :)

  31. jayne
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Yes, you are totally right!
    And, spork was an obvious one. Glad you glommed onto that one.

  32. Posted October 22, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Just ball bustin’ Jayne.

  33. Posted October 22, 2009 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    This article made my mangina ache. Hee Hee Hee… Mangina.

  34. Posted October 22, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    I love It’s Always Sunny.

  35. jayne
    Posted October 22, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    i know! tone is lost on the internets.

  36. Posted November 4, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Even worse – for a word like stay-cation that takes all of 2 brain cells and 1.75 seconds to digest and crap out – is when newsies decide it’s worth a feature article to derive all the saccharine goodness the fake-word is worth.

    Well, if somebody made a word out of it, it must be a trend worth watching.

    Back to you Delsquacho

  37. Quaquaversal
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    This was a intelligent well written article but I think it may condemn portmanteaus a bit too much. They are uberpuns. And much like puns they make you cringe more often than not; but occasionally they perfectly tie up a banter-laden conversation with a hilarious one-word observation which otherwise would have been impossible. When that happens, it’s a punderful thing. Use portmanteaus at your risk.

  38. Posted November 11, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    @ BMore
    Goddamn right!

    @ Qua
    I do enjoy bad puns, but people say things like “staycation” seriously. I’ve heard it used, completely unironically, in advertising. It makes the blood boil.

  39. Posted April 12, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Whai is Bro-Job.I want to know

  40. Posted May 6, 2010 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I have found that invariably it’s people who are desperate to prove they are trendier-than-thou who use those words.

  41. Posted July 1, 2010 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    You seem to be scenery your own homoerotic desires in a homophobic, structuralist denouncement that lacks pellucidity, communicating, and logic.

  42. Posted July 8, 2010 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    Good idea..Considering that many English words are just Greek/Latin words stuck together, you make no real sense in declaring a portmanteau a vapid waste of intellect. Shakespeare invented a lot of words by splicing some together.

  43. Posted July 17, 2010 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    I find it insufferable. Granted, in the cosmic scheme of things, people using trendy idioms in their speech and writing is no big deal.

  44. Posted July 20, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    English is such a strange language. Or at least for some of us….

  45. Posted December 31, 2010 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    I’m pretty sure that the first instance of this was from the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez romance when they were coined as ‘Bennifer’. That was the first time I saw the word mashup used, at least.

  46. Paul
    Posted October 12, 2011 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    I think people who use portmanteaus are a bunch of twunts.

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