the uniqueness of English blending words Today is the anniversary of the opening of the Chunnel, the tunnel that runs under the English Channel connecting France and England. In 1994, the 31 mile Chunnel was formally opened in a ribbon cutting ceremony by France's President Mitterrand and the Queen of England.

It took eight years to complete the Chunnel, but its name is consistent with a linguistic phenomenon that raged throughout the 20th century, and it doesn't look like there is a light at the end of the tunnel this century. The phenomenon is blending words, as in taking two words: channel and tunnel, and blending them into a single word: Chunnel.

It's appropriate that on the anniversary of the completion of the Chunnel that we have both an English and a French term to describe this word-merging phenomenon. Blend is the English term and portmanteau is the French equivalent. Portmanteau comes to us from the English poet Lewis Carroll who used the portmanteau -- a suitcase with two compartments that folds into one -- as a metaphor to describe the word blending that happens in the poem "Jabberwocky." Examples from the poem are chortle (chuckle + snort) and galumph (gallop + triumph). The popularity of Carroll's work not only added these new words to the English lexicon, it also seems to have encouraged others to try their hand at word blending (1).

In his book A Bawdy Language, Howard Richler traces the history of various blended words that that preceeded and followed Carroll's Jabberwocky, which was published in Through the Looking Glass in 1871.

1823 anecdotage - The tendancy for elderly people to tell stories, from anecdote + dotage.

1843 squirl - Handwriting with great flourishes, from squiggle + whirl.

1889 electrocute - Death by electricity, from electricity + execute.

1896 brunch - breakfast + lunch.

1925 motel - motor + hotel (2).

Blended words should not be confused with compound words, another popular method of adapting old words to create new ones. Unlike compound words, the two words that come together don't just latch onto each other; instead, at least one of the words, and often both, must lose some of themselves in the merger, as in the following more contemporary examples:

Reagonomics - Ronald Reagan + economics

Spanglish - Spanish + English

motorcade - motor + cavalcade

telecast - television + broadcast

tangelo - tangerine + pomelo

moped - motor + pedestrian

hazmat - hazardous + material

agribuiness - agriculture + business

blog - web + log
The Internet and technology are probably the most prolific source of new word blends these days. One interesting example is the term blook, which combines book with blog. USA Today featured an article on blooks on April 3, 2006, documenting the phenomenon of popular blogs morphing into books. The appropriate new word: blooks.

Today's Challenge: Grab Your Blender

In the tradition of Lewis Carroll, try your own hand at coining some new blended words today. Take two existing words and blend them into something new. Include a definition that makes the logical connection between the two words.

more discussion and Examples

Hopefully you have not forgotten these terminologies. Your module two on vocabulary that you studied in the first semester says that: "Blending is the fusion of two words into one, usually the first part one word with the last part of the other so that the resultant blend consists of both original meanings, e.g.: motel, brunch, fridge, smog".

You still remember the meanings of these blendings, do you? If you don't, study again your vocabulary lessons, will you? Clipping is a process in which a word ia formed by shortening a longer word, e.g.: zoo dorm, mag, pub, ads. You also have many clippings in Indonesian. Acronym is the result of forming a word from the first letter or letters of each word in a phrase, e.g. NASA, VIP, YMCA, AIDS. These systems of word formation are not only found in English but also in Indonesian. Look at the examples below:

Satpam, Hansip, Kanwil, Kades, Jatim, Perek.

Nur (for Nurhadi), kek (for kakek), pak (for Bapak).


It is sometime difficult, if not impossible, to find the lexical equivalent of either English blending, clipping and acronym in Indonesian or Indonesian blending, clipping and acronym in English. What is the Indonesian word for 'motel’ or 'brunch'? And what is the English word for 'hansip' or 'Kanwil'? The easiest way to translate those words is to explain the meaning of their components, e.g.;

motel = motor + hotel = hotel untuk para pelancong yang berkendaraan mobil

brunch = breakfast + lunch = makan pagi dan siang sekaligus

hansip = pertahanan + sipil = civil defence

Kanwil = Kantor + wilayah = Regional Office

Thus in this case there is no word for word translation. Or, if the new word has become very popular, you don't even have to translate it, just write as it is. For examples you have words such as NASA, UNICEF, WHO, and AIDS which you don't have to translate because; they are quite popular. It is funny that we have etc in Indonesian which is identical with the English etc. We also have PM which can be interpreted as Perdana Perdana Menteri or Prime Minister. But these are only few coincidences.

In translating English blendings, clippings or acronyms into Indonesian you should first of all try to find the original word or words. Sometimes an acronym or a clipping has more than one meaning, thus the context will help you identify the intended one. Look at these examples below:

1. We arrived here at 7 p.m. (post maridem = sore)

2. The p.m. will be done as (post mortem = pemeriksaan mayat)

soon as the doctor arrives.

3. The British P.M. is a really tough (Prime Minister = Perdana Menteri)


4. The new P.M. has been in the (Provost Marshal = opsir tentara yang

army for more than ten years. bertugas menjaga keamanan)

5. A sub is a warship able to operate (Submarine = kapal selam)

under the surface of the sea.

6. Chris is a sub teacher for Mrs. White (Substitute = pengganti)

while she is on official leave.

7. The monument was erected by public (subscription = sumbangan)


In translating English acronyms or blendings into Indonesian sometimes you have to make lexical adjustments. Look at the examples below:

U.F.O. = Unidentified Flying Object

1 2 3

tak dikenal terbang benda

1 2 3

= Benda terbang tak dikenal = Piring terbang

Subway = sub railway

1 2

di bawah jalan kereta api

1 2

= Jalan kereta api di bawah = kereta api di bawah tanah

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