What is portmanteau perfection? So far – nothing…but hopefully I can give some meaning to the term. I am proposing that if a word combination includes all letters of both wordponents, it is a “Perfect Portmanteau.” Let me give a few examples to help clarify: Freevent (a free event), Sparea (a spare area), Simplementation (a simple implementation), Peanutella (a mixture of peanut butter and Nutella), and Betiquette (etiquette of placing a bet) are all perfect portmanteaux. These are all fairly straightforward combinations, but what happens when the line between perfect and imperfect portmanteaux blends?
Consider for a moment the portmanteau Thrivalry (a thriving rivalry, usually in sports). Please pardon the portmanteaux pretentiousness (mmm, alliteration), but I really like this sportmanteau. So, is it a perfect portmanteau? Well, let’s check the wordponents – Thrive and Rivalry. Actually, that’s bringing up another issue – is it the root of the wordponent, or the wordponent itself (thrive versus thriving) that we are checking for perfection? Am I supposed to be answering these questions, or just posing them? I think the modus operandi so far has been to pose the questions, then suggest what I think the answer should be. I do want to be really clear that I’m interested in what YOU think here, because I definitely don’t have all the answers. Since creating portmanteaux is my hobby (and meant to be fun and inclusive), I think everybody is entitled to their own answers. Anyway, I consider Thrivalry a combo of Thrive and Rivalry, but I definitely understand viewing it as Thriving + Rivalry. Assuming “thrive” is the wordponent, the portmanteau does not have the letter ‘e’ so it may not be perfect.
To be honest, I really want to declare Thrivalry a perfect portmanteau. What the heck – it’s perfect. Please argue if you disagree. This debate may come down to oral versus written perfection. It may be unfair to call this a debate, since really I’m sparking it now, and nobody is arguing, but I digress. Thrivalry is an example of an orally perfect portmanteau because when spoken, it sounds like both wordponents are fully represented. Here are a couple more examples – Marketecture (a blend of marketing and architecture), Broadience (a broad audience), and Funyons (the brand of chips who finally made onions fun). I’m doing my best here to avoid starting another rant on why they should be called Funions instead. Interesting “factoid” from the Wikipedia (wiki + encyclopedia) article – they originally wanted to call the product OnYums, another portmanteau, but the name was already taken.
Well, I think it’s clear that there can be plenty of debate around the perfection of portmanteaux, and that’s without even touching on the fact that some may argue that portmanteau perfection is a world where the evolution of language occurs through word combination. I’ll leave you with this word – Seagullible. Obviously this means a gullible seagull, but how often can this term really be used?? In my opinion, Thrivalry and many other almost perfect portmanteaux are more perfect than Seagullible. What do you think?