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A blend (sometimes blend word, lexical blend, portmanteau or portmanteau word) is a word formed from parts of two or more other words. At least one of these parts is not a morph (the realization of a morpheme) but instead a mere splinter, a fragment that is normally meaningless:
In [words such as motel, boatel and Lorry-Tel], hotel is represented by various shorter substitutes - ‑otel, ‑tel or ‑el - which I shall call splinters. Words containing splinters I shall call blends.[n 1]
Blends of two or more words may be classified from each of three viewpoints: morphotactic, morphonological, and morphosemantic.
Blends may be classified morphotactically into two kinds: total and partial.
In a total blend, each of the words creating the blend is reduced to a mere splinter. Some linguists limit blends to these (perhaps with additional conditions): for example, Ingo Plag considers "proper blends" to be total blends that semantically are coordinate, the remainder being "shortened compounds".
Commonly for English blends, the beginning of one word is followed by the end of another:
These have also been called sandwich words, and classed among intercalative blends.
(When two words are combined in their entirety, the result is considered a compound word rather than a blend. For example, bagpipe is a compound, not a blend, of bag and pipe.)
Morphonologically, blends fall into two kinds: overlapping and non-overlapping.
Overlapping blends are those for which the ingredients' consonants, vowels or even syllables overlap to some extent. The overlap can be of different kinds. These are also called haplologic blends.
There may be an overlap that is both phonological and orthographic, but with no other shortening:
Morphosemantically, blends fall into two kinds: attributive and coordinate.
Attributive blends (also called syntactic or telescope blends) are those in which one of the ingredients is the head and the other is attributive. A porta-light is a portable light, not a light-emitting or light portability; light is the head. A snobject is a snobbery-satisfying object and not an objective or other kind of snob; object is the head.
As is also true for (conventional, non-blend) attributive compounds (among which bathroom, for example, is a kind of room, not a kind of bath), the attributive blends of English are mostly right-headed and mostly endocentric. As an example of an exocentric attributive blend, Fruitopia may metaphorically take the buyer to a fruity utopia (and not a utopian fruit); however, it is not a utopia but a drink.
Coordinate blends (also called associative or portmanteau blends) combine two words having equal status, and have two heads. Thus brunch is neither a breakfasty lunch nor a lunchtime breakfast but instead some hybrid of breakfast and lunch; Oxbridge is equally Oxford and Cambridge universities. This too parallels (conventional, non-blend) compounds: an actor-director is equally an actor and a director.
Two kinds of coordinate blends are particularly conspicuous: those that combine (near‑) synonyms:
Israeli shiltút 'zapping, surfing the channels, flipping through the channels' derives from
(i) (Hebrew>)Israeli shalát 'remote control', an ellipsis - like Englishremote (but using the noun instead) - of the (widely known) compound ? shalát rakhók - cf. the Academy of the Hebrew Language's shalát rákhak; and
(ii) (Hebrew>)Israeli ? shitút 'wandering, vagrancy'. Israeli shiltút was introduced by the Academy of the Hebrew Language in [...] 1996. Synchronically, it might appear to result from reduplication of the final consonant of shalát 'remote control'.
Another example of blending which has also been explained as mere reduplication is Israeli ? gakhlilít 'fire-fly, glow-fly, Lampyris'. This coinage by Hayyim Nahman Bialik blends (Hebrew>)Israeli ? gakhélet 'burning coal' with (Hebrew>)Israeli ? láyla 'night'. Compare this with the unblended ? khakhlilít '(black) redstart, Phoenicurus' (<<Biblical Hebrew 'dull red, reddish'). Synchronically speaking though, most native Israeli-speakers feel that gakhlilít includes a reduplication of the third radical of ?g?l. This is incidentally how Ernest Klein explains gakhlilít. Since he is attempting to provide etymology, his description might be misleading if one agrees that Hayyim Nahman Bialik had blending in mind."
"There are two possible etymological analyses for Israeli Hebrew ? kaspár 'bank clerk, teller'. The first is that it consists of (Hebrew>)Israeli késef 'money' and the (International/Hebrew>)Israeli agentivesuffix ?- -ár. The second is that it is a quasi-portmanteau word which blends késef 'money' and (Hebrew>)Israeli ?spr 'count'. Israeli Hebrew ? kaspár started as a brand name but soon entered the common language. Even if the second analysis is the correct one, the final syllable ?- -ár apparently facilitated nativization since it was regarded as the Hebrew suffix ?- -år (probably of Persian pedigree), which usually refers to craftsmen and professionals, for instance as in Mendele Mocher Sforim's coinage ? smartutár 'rag-dealer'."
Blending may occur with an error in lexical selection, the process by which a speaker uses his semantic knowledge to choose words. Lewis Carroll's explanation, which gave rise to the use of 'portmanteau' for such combinations, was:
Humpty Dumpty's theory, of two meanings packed into one word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all. For instance, take the two words "fuming" and "furious." Make up your mind that you will say both words ... you will say "frumious."
The errors are based on similarity of meanings, rather than phonological similarities, and the morphemes or phonemes stay in the same position within the syllable.
Some languages, like Japanese, encourage the shortening and merging of borrowed foreign words (as in gairaigo), because they are long or difficult to pronounce in the target language. For example, karaoke, a combination of the Japanese word kara (meaning empty) and the clipped form oke of the English loanword "orchestra" (J. ?kesutora ), is a Japanese blend that has entered the English language. The Vietnamese language also encourages blend words formed from Sino-Vietnamese vocabulary. For example, the term Vi?t C?ng is derived from the first syllables of "Vi?t Nam" (Vietnam) and "C?ng s?n" (communist).
Many corporate brand names, trademarks, and initiatives, as well as names of corporations and organizations themselves, are blends. For example, Wiktionary, one of Wikipedia's sister projects, is a blend of wiki and dictionary.
^Example provided by Mattiello of a blend of this kind. (Etymologically, fan is a clipping of fanatic; but it has since become lexicalized.)
^ abElisa Mattiello, "Lexical index." Appendix (pp. 287-329) to Extra-grammatical Morphology in English: Abbreviations, Blends, Reduplicatives, and Related Phenomena (Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2013; doi:10.1515/9783110295399; ISBN978-3-11-029539-9).
^Example provided by Mattiello of a blend of this kind, slightly amended.
^ abExample provided by Mattiello of a blend of this kind. The word is found in Finnegans Wake; Mattiello credits Almuth Grésillon, La règle et le monstre: Le mot-valise. Interrogations sur la langue, à partir d'un corpus de Heinrich Heine (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1984), 15, for bringing it to her attention.
^Valerie Adams, An Introduction to Modern English Word-Formation (Harlow, Essex: Longman, 1973; ISBN0-582-55042-4), 142.
^Stefan Th. Gries, "Quantitative corpus data on blend formation: Psycho- and cognitive-linguistic perspectives", in Vincent Renner, François Maniez, Pierre Arnaud, eds, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Lexical Blending (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012; ISBN978-3-11-028923-7), 145-168.
^Laurie Bauer, "Blends: Core and periphery", in Vincent Renner, François Maniez, Pierre Arnaud, eds, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Lexical Blending (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012; ISBN978-3-11-028923-7), 11-22.
^Outi Bat-El and Evan-Gary Cohen, "Stress in English blends: A constraint-based analysis", in Vincent Renner, François Maniez, Pierre Arnaud, eds, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Lexical Blending (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012; ISBN978-3-11-028923-7)
^ abSuzanne Kemmer, "Schemas and lexical blends." In Hubert C. Cuyckens et al., eds, Motivation in Language: From Case Grammar to Cognitive Linguistics: Studies in Honour of Günter Radden (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2003; ISBN9789027247551, ISBN9781588114266).
^Angela Ralli and George J. Xydopoulos, "Blend formation in Modern Greek", in Vincent Renner, François Maniez, Pierre Arnaud, eds, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Lexical Blending (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012; ISBN978-3-11-028923-7), 35-50.
^Michael H. Kelly, "To 'brunch' or to 'brench': Some aspects of blend structure," Linguistics 36 (1998), 579-590.
^Adrienne Lehrer, "Blendalicious," in Judith Munat, ed., Lexical Creativity, Texts and Contexts (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2007; ISBN9789027215673), 115-133.
^Giorgio-Francesco Arcodia and Fabio Montermini, "Are reduced compounds compounds? Morphological and prosodic properties of reduced compounds in Russian and Mandarin Chinese", in Vincent Renner, François Maniez, Pierre Arnaud, eds, Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Lexical Blending (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2012; ISBN978-3-11-028923-7), 93-114.
^Klein, Ernest (1987). A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language. Jerusalem: Carta. See p. 97.