Are word mashups pathetisad or helpfunctional?

By Laura Bergells on
word mashups

I came across the words smetiquette and framily for the first time in January. I didn’t need to look these words up: I knew what they meant instantly and intuitively.

  • Smetiquette is a portmanteau: a mashup of the phrase social media (SM) and etiquette.
  • Framily is Sprint’s marketing mashup: it means “Friends and Family”.

We seem to be living in the era of the word mashup. We quickly create new words by combining fragments of old words to meet a rapidly unfolding technology-enabled milieu.

I can understand how conservative folks and grammar snobs might bristle at these new words: they aren’t “proper”. They aren’t in the dictionary. They’re “slang”.

And yet, mashups can be useful and playful words. Language is a living, growing thing — it grows in the wilds of everyday use, not in lofty libraries and laboratories detached from pop culture. And language often flourishes and adapts itself before an official governing body can determine if a particular word is useful enough to be considered acceptable for inclusion in scholarly works.

What if you use a word that doesn’t officially exist, but every English speaker you encounter knows exactly what it means? What if your audience can swiftly decipher a new word’s meaning through context? Might this word have what it takes to hang around for a few decades?

What do you think? Is this current wave of portmanteau usage pathetisad? Or do you find word mashups to be more helpfunctional?

What mashups have caught your ear or captured your imagination lately?

photo by: donnierayjones

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