portmanteau words (lexical blending)

Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Mon Jun 12 16:00:19 UTC 2000

Here's a question that you might find interesting, from LINGUIST List #11-1309.
ADS-L'ers, please respond to the questioner, not to me; my bcc list, I'd enjoy
any reaction you may have.

-- Mark


Date: Sun, 11 Jun 2000 14:16:12 +0200
From: Suzanne Kemmer <kemmer at eva.mpg.de>
Subject: How old is lexical blending?

Does anybody know how old lexical blending is in English?
Besides the Lewis Carroll examples like _slithy_ and _chortle_,
which date from 1872, I have found one blend in George Eliot's Middlemarch
(_Corregiosity_) and then the next oldest I have are citations
in reference works : 1896 (_brunch_ ) and 1905 (_smog_).

Has anybody collected any earlier lexical blends? I would have
thought Dickens might have created some but of course it's difficult to
search until you know a specific example.  Shakespeare would
be another likely creator of blend neologisms.
(anybody know a Shakespeare list I can post this query to?).

Thanks for help.
Suzanne Kemmer

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