Thoughts from my study of Horror, Media, and Narrrative

On Portmanteaus and the Death of American Wit

I very much disagree with this Slate’s Culture Gabfest take on portmanteaus. There is, I think, a rich discussion regarding relationship between (new) words/concepts and the ways in which people understand limitations in the ability of their current language to express an idea. We could think about how multi-lingual people run into this as well when you switch to another language because your current one simply doesn’t contain the word (in its fullness) that you are looking to say. Portmanteaus are not new and they are not the real issue here.

Alternatively, it seems like what the original Slate article is trying to get at is the death of American wit and the way in which “clever” wordplay has come to stand in for an actual depth of meaning. I am not mad at this.

All of this to say that I think that both of these lines of inquiry are productive to explore and I think that the most insightful bit of commentary is to dive into how individuals deploy language as a positional/relational tool.


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