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Re: Portmanteaus for a Conlang

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  • Padraic Brown
    ... Possibly not. Humpty Dumpty who (according to WP) explains to Alice how the portmanteau words work in that world, seems to be alluding to the (now rather
    Message 1 of 27 , Apr 24, 2013
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      --- On Wed, 4/24/13, R A Brown <ray@...> wrote:

      > > Should have gone with your first instinct, then -- I'd
      > > actually heard of Oxbridge! (And managed to port the
      > > name, though not the locality specifics, into
      > > Avantimannish "Ourohhsbrycge". In this case, it's
      > > actually a bridge with carved aurochs at either end.
      > > The nearby town takes its name therefrom.)
      >
      > Which makes me ask myself whether "Oxbridge" is really a
      > portmanteau word, at least in the sense meant by Lewis
      > Carrol.

      Possibly not. Humpty Dumpty who (according to WP) explains to Alice how
      the portmanteau words work in that world, seems to be alluding to the
      (now rather old fashioned) portmanteau luggage -- literally "two
      [luggages] packed up into one [box]" (to borrow from Carrol). But Dumpty
      speaks of "two meanings" in one word, which indicates that things like
      Oxbridge and Kentuckiana are nòt portmanteau words so much as compressed
      abbreviations. These words don't contain "two meanings packed up into one
      word", though! Oxbridge indicates "one meaning spliced together from two
      words". Carrol is doing something a little bit different, but not
      completely unrelated. Both of these combine different words into one new
      word, but Carrol is also combining sense and meaning. That's how I see
      it, anyway.

      > Very recently some of us objected to "chairstand" being
      > called a portmanteau word because both "chair" and "stand"
      > are full morphemes. So, of course, are "ox" and "bridge."
      > Indeed, there is a hamlet called "Oxbridge" in the English
      > county of Dorset.
      >
      > In Carrol's use of the word the two words put, as it were,
      > into the portmanteau are _fused_ together, e.g.
      > slithy <-- slimy + lithe
      > gallumph <-- gallop + triumph
      > chortle <-- chuckle + snort
      > etc.

      Exactly so.

      > As well as post-Carrol coinages such as:
      > smog <-- smoke + fog
      > brunch <-- breakfast + lunch
      > spork <-- spoon + fork
      > etc.
      >
      > None of these are divisible syllable by syllable into
      > separate morphemes.
      >
      > But "Oxbridge" (not the hamlet) is a _shortening_ of
      > "Ox[ford and Cam]bridge."

      Yep. But I think one could get away with it, simply because it is a
      combination of two old into one new entity, more or less as Dumpty says.
      Just look at it as a slightly different model of suitcase! I think we
      can do this because, while etymologically, Oxford is OX + FORD and
      Cambridge is CAM + BRIDGE, realistically I think for many moderns, these
      old place names tend towards irreducibility. Mattaponi and Waldorf are
      local town names. If I combined them into Mattadorf, I don't think it's
      really any different than Oxbridge, just that the original names are rather
      more opaque.

      Padraic

      > -- Ray
    • R A Brown
      ... Or more strictly, the bound morpheme _electro-_ and [exe]cute. The verb & its associated noun _execution_ seems to have been coined in the US in the 1890s
      Message 2 of 27 , Apr 25, 2013
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        On 24/04/2013 22:36, C. Brickner wrote:
        > ----- Original Message ----- It combines what?
        >
        > Electricity and execute!!

        Or more strictly, the bound morpheme _electro-_ and
        [exe]cute. The verb & its associated noun _execution_ seems
        to have been coined in the US in the 1890s to describe
        execution by means of the electric chair. It then became
        more generally used to denote any death by electricity,
        whether intended or accidental.
        ===========================================================

        On 25/04/2013 03:08, Padraic Brown wrote:
        > --- On Wed, 4/24/13, R A Brown wrote:
        >
        [snip]
        >>
        >> Which makes me ask myself whether "Oxbridge" is really
        >> a portmanteau word, at least in the sense meant by
        >> Lewis Carrol.
        >
        > Possibly not. Humpty Dumpty who (according to WP)
        > explains to Alice how the portmanteau words work in that
        > world, seems to be alluding to the (now rather old
        > fashioned) portmanteau luggage -- literally "two
        > [luggages] packed up into one [box]" (to borrow from
        > Carrol).

        Correct.

        > But Dumpty speaks of "two meanings" in one word, which
        > indicates that things like Oxbridge and Kentuckiana are
        > nòt portmanteau words so much as compressed
        > abbreviations.

        My point exactly. It seems that earlier replies ignored my
        rider "at least in the sense meant by Lewis Carrol."

        It seems to me that "Oxbridge" does not. That does not mean
        that one may not call it a portmanteau, but that it is not
        IMO a portmanteau _in the sense used by Carrol_.

        > These words don't contain "two meanings packed up into
        > one word", though! Oxbridge indicates "one meaning
        > spliced together from two words". Carrol is doing
        > something a little bit different, but not completely
        > unrelated.

        Sure, the processes are related - but Carrol's are IMO more
        creative :)

        [snip]

        >> But "Oxbridge" (not the hamlet) is a _shortening_ of
        >> "Ox[ford and Cam]bridge."
        >
        > Yep. But I think one could get away with it, simply
        > because it is a combination of two old into one new
        > entity, more or less as Dumpty says. Just look at it as
        > a slightly different model of suitcase! I think we can
        > do this because, while etymologically, Oxford is OX +
        > FORD and Cambridge is CAM + BRIDGE, realistically I think
        > for many moderns, these old place names tend towards
        > irreducibility.

        Oxford perhaps is now less irreducible to urban dwellers who
        have never met a ford in their life (unless it be a car/
        automobile) and to whom "ox" has only a vague bovine
        meaning. But to us who were brought up in the country, the
        meaning is clear enough :)

        Cambridge, I think, is more readily understood as two
        morphemes. "Bridge" is a commonly used word, and place
        names formed by attaching -bridge to a river name are known,
        e.g. Trent bridge (famous cricket ground).

        > Mattaponi and Waldorf are local town names. If I
        > combined them into Mattadorf, I don't think it's really
        > any different than Oxbridge, just that the original names
        > are rather more opaque.

        From a synchronic point of view "Mattaponi" is a single
        morpheme; so, I suspect, is "Waldorf" to most people (though
        some, like me, will see -dorf as a separate morpheme).

        There seems to me to be fuzzy boundaries between formations
        such as:
        slithy <-- slimy + lithe
        smog <-- smoke + fog
        Mettadorf <-- Mattaponi + Waldorf
        Oxbridge <-- Oxford + Cambridge

        The first two clearly meet Carrol's definition; the third
        probably does, but the last one IMO does not. As we cannot
        now ask Lewis Carrol, we can only speculate ;)

        Whether there is any point in using different terms for
        'Carrolian portmanteaus' and compressed abbreviations like
        "Oxbridge" is another matter.
        ========================================================

        On 24/04/2013 20:35, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets wrote:
        > On 24 April 2013 17:40, R A Brown wrote:
        [snip]
        >> Which makes me ask myself whether "Oxbridge" is really
        >> a portmanteau word, at least in the sense meant by
        >> Lewis Carrol.
        >>
        >>
        > It depends: is it useful to make a distinction?

        That is a different question. What I was asking is whether
        "Oxbridge" is a portmanteau in the sense that Lewis Carrol
        used the word. To me it seems more of a stump compound.
        Whether it is useful to distinguish between such stump
        compounds and Carrolian portmanteaus is another matter.

        [snip]

        >>
        > True, but is "Cam-" really a morpheme? Or is it one of
        > those weird things like the "cran-" of "cranberry"?

        No, Cam certainly is a morpheme; it's the name of a river or
        rather of two different rivers. There is a River Cam in
        Gloucestershire; and on that river you will find a hamlet
        with the name Cambridge :)

        But the city, where the university is, sits on the other
        River Cam, which is a tributary of the Great Ouse is east
        England.

        The name of both the hamlet and the city is thus: 'Cam
        bridge' :)

        =========================================================

        But to revert to the subject line, i.e. .... for a conlang.

        IIRC Loglan _mren_ = "man" is a portmanteau of English
        _man/men_ and Mandarin _ren_.

        I understand Esperanto _ĝardeno_ is a portmanteau of English
        _garden_ and French _jardin_ and/or Italian _giardino_.

        Both these IMO are true Carrolian portmanteaus :)

        --
        Ray
        ==================================
        http://www.carolandray.plus.com
        ==================================
        "language … began with half-musical unanalysed expressions
        for individual beings and events."
        [Otto Jespersen, Progress in Language, 1895]
      • Roger Mills
        ... True, but is Cam- really a morpheme? Or is it one of those weird things like the cran- of cranberry ? ... Just to throw my spaniard into the works,
        Message 3 of 27 , Apr 25, 2013
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          --- On Wed, 4/24/13, Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <tsela.cg@...> wrote:
          True, but is "Cam-" really a morpheme? Or is it one of those weird things
          like the "cran-" of "cranberry"?
          --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          Just to throw my spaniard into the works, why are the inhabitants of Cambridge (Engl. and Massachusetts) called "Cantabrigians"???? (Ancient history, I know....IIRC also, -bri(c,g)a is a Celtic word-- does it mean "bridge"? It crops up in Spanish place names too.)
        • R A Brown
          On 25/04/2013 12:11, Roger Mills wrote: [snip] ... From _Cantabrigia_, a medieval Latin name for Cambridge UK. It was formed from Middle English _Cantebrigge_.
          Message 4 of 27 , Apr 25, 2013
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            On 25/04/2013 12:11, Roger Mills wrote:
            [snip]
            >
            > Just to throw my spaniard into the works, why are the
            > inhabitants of Cambridge (Engl. and Massachusetts)
            > called "Cantabrigians"????

            From _Cantabrigia_, a medieval Latin name for Cambridge UK.
            It was formed from Middle English _Cantebrigge_.

            The Old English name was _Grantebrycge_ - bridge on the
            River _Grante_. The old name of the river is perpetuated in
            the Grantchester, a village in Cambridgeshire, England, made
            famous by Rupert Brook in his poem "The Old Vicarage,
            Grantchester."

            Why the the Old English Grante- changed to Cante- in the
            place name is not clear. But it seems that the name of the
            river was similarly changed. It is now the Cam.

            AFAIK there is no river named Cam that flows through
            Cambridge MA; so I guess that makes Cambridge in MA a single
            morpheme, while Cambridge UK is still fairly obviously 'Cam
            bridge.' :)

            --
            Ray
            ==================================
            http://www.carolandray.plus.com
            ==================================
            "language … began with half-musical unanalysed expressions
            for individual beings and events."
            [Otto Jespersen, Progress in Language, 1895]
          • And Rosta
            Regarding the question of whether _Oxford_ and _Cambridge_ are monomorphemic: 1. _Cam-_ in _Cambridge_ rhymes with _shame_, while the river _Cam_ rhymes with
            Message 5 of 27 , Apr 25, 2013
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              Regarding the question of whether _Oxford_ and _Cambridge_ are monomorphemic:
              1. _Cam-_ in _Cambridge_ rhymes with _shame_, while the river _Cam_ rhymes with _sham_.
              2. Unlike, say, 'phoneme', there isn't a relatively commonsensical atheoretical definition of 'morpheme'.
              3. On phonological grounds there is a basis for recognizing as a unit the minimal morpho-phonological form such that it does not subdivide into further morpho-phonological forms to which phonological rules are sensitive. _Oxford_ indubitably subdivides into Ox#ford on that basis. So, almost as indubitably, does _Cambridge_ subdivide into _Cam#bridge_. (You will not find any incontrovertibly monomorphemic forms containing /ksf/ or long vowel plus /mbr/.)
              4. IMO all English speakers know that _Oxford_ and _Cambridge_ are made of these two parts, but will differ on the degree to which they recognize the halves as units that recur in other words (including placenames) and on the degree to which they recognize those units as meaningful.

              --And.
            • George Corley
              ... Of course, that is an empirical claim, not just a matter of opinion. I recognize them as such, but we d need to find a way to test this with a large,
              Message 6 of 27 , Apr 25, 2013
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                On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 10:22 AM, And Rosta <and.rosta@...> wrote:

                >
                > 4. IMO all English speakers know that _Oxford_ and _Cambridge_ are made of
                > these two parts, but will differ on the degree to which they recognize the
                > halves as units that recur in other words (including placenames) and on the
                > degree to which they recognize those units as meaningful.


                Of course, that is an empirical claim, not just a matter of opinion. I
                recognize them as such, but we'd need to find a way to test this with a
                large, varied sample. That's some tricky business.
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