If the latest portmanteau is to be taken seriously – Grexit, a combination of the words Greece and exit referring to the possibility of Greece leaving the Eurozone (Dear future, has this now happened?) – the squashing of words together now has a foreshadowing aspect. Others have arrived portending further Greek quandaries: Grexodous, Grepicentre, and The Grelephant in the Room.
Shorthand has a pragmatic role, especially amongst the press and glitterati for whom speed and pithiness are as profitable as they are addictive, proving that slanguage has some of the key progenitors of communication on its side.
All sorts of facets of modernity maybe read through these assemblages. From snow and ice comes “snice”, from Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie comes “Brangelina”, from ham and sandwich comes “hamwich”, from knife and fork comes “knork”, and most puzzling of all, from has-been and lesbian comes “hasbian”.
Irregardless, (from irrespective and regardless, which may yet make it into our vocabulary), portmanteaus are here to stay: sitcom, fanzine, brunch, Oxbridge, mockney, and countless others, have already found a permanent place.
A portmanteau is neither an insight or a simplification, but it maybe a glimpse into another enterprise that somebody, somewhere, finds exciting. Like most puns (and some poetry), it is the result of serendipity and a certain rummaging, a desire to cloud as much to clarify; most of all, a type of entertainment for the quick-witted and the up-do-date.
If I were to choose my own flavourite, I’d go back to the great Seinfeld: when Kramer and Jerry’s father decided to make a bra for men, they ponder over the choice between “The Manzier” and “The Bro”. Still raises a smile.