Why Do Word Blends with Near-Synonymous Composites Exist and Persist? The Case of Guesstimate, Chillax, Ginormous and Confuzzled

Open access

Abstract

Despite their increasing use, little is known about the purpose of word blends, e.g. chillax, which have near-synonymous composite words (relax and chill). Potential explanations for their existence and persistence include: use in different sentence constructions, to provide unique meaning, and to create interest/identity. Th e current study used a vignette methodology with two-hundred and forty-one students to explore the relevance of such hypotheses for ‘guesstimate’, ‘chillax’, ‘ginormous’, and ‘confuzzled’. Our inconsistent results suggest that the semantics of the word blends may diff er from their composites in very subtle ways. However further work is needed to acknowledge and determine the impact of context upon the use and consequences of these word blends.

References

  • Algeo, J. (1977). Blends, a structural and systemic view. American Speech, 52 (1/2), 47.

  • Algeo, J. (1980). Where do all the new words come from? American Speech, 55 (4), 264-277.

  • Algeo, J. (1993). Fift y years among the new words: A dictionary of neologisms 1941-1991. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

  • Altmann, G.T.M. (1997). The ascent of Babel: An exploration of language, mind and understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Behind the Grammar (2010). Top 10 made up words. Retrieved from: http://behindthegrammar.com/2010/07/top-10-made-up-words/ Bryant, M.M. (1974). Blends are increasing. American Speech, 49 (3/4), 163-184.

  • Calude, A. & Pagel, M. (2011). How do we use language? Shared patterns in the frequency of word use across 17 world languages. Philosophical Transactions Of The Royal Society Of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 366 (1567), 1101-1107.

  • Church, K.W., Gale, W., Hanks, P., Hindle, R., & Moon, R. (1994). Lexical substitutability. In B.T.S. Atkins & A. Zampolli (Eds.), Computational Approaches to the Lexicon (pp. 153-177). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Cook, P. & Stevenson, S. (2010). Automatically Identifying the Source Words of Lexical Blends in English. Computational Linguistics, 36 (1), 129-149.

  • Crystal, D. (2012). The story of English in 100 words. London, UK: CPI Group.

  • Divjak, D. (2006). Ways of intending: Delineating and structuring near synonyms. In S.T. Gries & A. Stefanowitsch (Eds.), Corpora in Cognitive Linguistics: Corpus-based Approaches to Syntax and Lexis (pp. 19-56). Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

  • Divjak, D. & Gries, S.T. (2006). Ways of trying in Russian: Clustering behavioral profiles. Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory, 2 (1), 23-60.

  • Edmonds, P. & Hirst, G. (2002). Near synonyms and lexical choice. Computational Linguistics, 28 (2), 105-144.

  • Fandrych, I. (2008). Pagad, chillax and jozi: A multi-level approach to acronyms, blends, and clippings. Nawa: Journal of Language & Communication, 2 (2), 71-88.

  • Field, A. (2009). Discovering Statistics using SPSS. London, UK: Sage.

  • Finch, H. (2005). Comparison of the performance of nonparametric and parametric MANOVA test statistics when assumptions are violated. Methodology: European Journal Of Research Methods For The Behavioral And Social Sciences, 1 (1), 27-38.

  • Fleck, D.W. (2006). On the origin and cultural significance of unusually large synonym sets in some Panoan languages of Western Amazonia. Anthropological Linguistics, 48 (4), 335-368.

  • Gries, S.H. (2004). Shouldn’t it be breakfunch? A quantitative analysis of blend structure in English. Linguistics, 42 (3), 639-667.

  • Gries, S. & Otani, N. (2010). Behavioral profiles: A corpus-based perspective on synonymy and antonymy. ICAME Journal, 34, 121-150.

  • Gutierrez, R., Giner-Sorolla, R., & Vasiljevic, M. (2012). Just an anger synonym? Moral context infl uences predictors of disgust word use. Cognition & Emotion, 26 (1), 53-64.

  • Hicklin, M. (1930). Scribes seek snappy synonyms. American Speech, 6 (2), 110-122.

  • Hormes, J. & Rozin, P. (2010). Does “craving” carve nature at the joints? Absence of a synonym for craving in many languages. Addictive Behaviors, 35 (5), 459-463.

  • Johnson, T.J., Meinke, D.L., Van Mondfrans, A.P., & Finn, J. (1965). Word frequency of synonym responses as a function of word frequency of the stimulus and list position of the response. Psychonomic Science, 2 (8), 235-236.

  • Kelly, M.H. (1998). To ‘brunch’ or to ‘brench’: some aspects of blend structure. Linguistics, 36 (3), 579-590.

  • Kitzinger, C. & Mandelbaum, J. (2013). Word selection and social identities in talk-in-interaction. Communication Monographs, 80 (2), 176-198.

  • Lehrer, A. (2003). Understanding trendy neologisms. Italian Journal of Linguistics, 15 (2), 369-382.

  • Liu, D. (2010). Is it a chief, main, major, primary, or principal concern?: A corpusbased behavioral profile study of the near-synonyms. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 15 (1), 56-87.

  • Liu, D. & Espino, M. (2012). Actually, genuinely, really, and truly: A corpus-based Behavioral Profile study of near-synonymous adverbs. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 17 (2), 198-228.

  • Lounsbery, J. & Reitherman, W. (1977). The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. United States: Walt Disney Mackin, R. (1978). On collocations: ‘Words shall be known by the company they keep’. In P. Strevens (Ed.), In Honour of A. S. Hornby (pp. 149-165). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Miller, G.A. & Charles, W.G. (1991). Contextual correlates of semantic similarity. Language and Cognitive Processes, 6 (1), 1-28.

  • Nayak, A. (2011). Portmanteau words: The key to creativity. A review of Arun K. Behera’s book “The World of Portmanteau Words”. Language in India, 11 (10), 487-489.

  • Pagel, M. (2008). Rise of the digital machine. Nature, 452, 699.

  • Partridge, E., Ganville, W., & Roberts, F.G. (1948). A dictionary of Forces’ slang. London, UK: Secker and Warburg. Piñeros, C. (2004). The creation of portmanteaus in the extragrammatical morphology of Spanish. Probus: International Journal of Latin & Romance Linguistics, 16 (2), 203-240.

  • Pound, L. (1933). Miscellany. American Speech, 8 (4), 76-80.

  • Prenner, M. (1928). Slang synonyms for ‘drunk’. American Speech, 4 (2), 102-103.

  • Scott-Phillips, T.C. (2007). The social evolution of language, and the language of social evolution. Evolutionary Psychology, 5 (4), 740-753.

  • Smith, K. & Nordquist, D. (2012). A critical and historical investigation into semantic prosody. Journal of Historical Pragmatics, 13 (2), 291-312.

  • Steffens, N.K. & Haslam, S. (2013). Power through ‘us’: Leaders’ use of wereferencing language predicts election victory. Plos ONE, 8 (10), 1-6.

  • Tabachnick, B.G. & Fidell, L.S. (2007). Using Multivariate Statistics. New York: Harper & Row.

  • Tognini-Bonelli, E. (2001). Corpus Linguistics at Work. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Wiktionary (2013). English citations of confuzzle, confuzzles, confuzzling and confuzzled. Retrieved from: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Citations:confuzzle Withington, R. (1932). More ‘portmanteau’ coinages. American Speech, 7 (3), 200-203.

  • Xiao, R. & McEnery, T. (2006). Collocation, semantic prosody, and near synonymy: A cross-linguistic perspective. Applied Linguistics, 27 ( 1), 103-129.

Journal Information


CiteScore 2016: 0.24

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.200
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.380

Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 47 47 18
PDF Downloads 8 8 2