H.L. Mencken > The American Language > Subject Index > Page 186
H.L. Mencken (1880–1956).  The American Language.  1921.

Page 186
is this true of verbs shortened from nouns and adjectives by subtracting what looks like a derivative suffix, e. g., -er, -or, -ing, -ent from nouns, or -y from adjectives. Many clipped verbs have noun parallels, while some are simply clipped nouns used as verbs.” 46 Miss Wittmann calls attention to the curious fact that very few adjectives are clipped in American; there are actually more of them in British English. Sesech (from secessionist, really a noun, but often used as an adjective) is one of the few familiar examples. Adjectives are made copiously in American, but most of them are made by other processes.
  Another popular sort of neologism is the blend- or portmanteau- word. Many such words are in standard English, e. g., Lewis Carroll’s chortle (from chuckle and snort), dumbfound (from dumb and confound), luncheon (lunch+nuncheon), blurt (blare+spurt). American contributed gerrymander (Gerry+salamander) so long ago as 1812, and in more recent years has produced many blends that have gone over into standard English, e. g., cablegram (cable+telegram), electrocute (electricity+execute), electrolier (electricity+chandelier, Amerind (American+Indian), doggery (dog+groggery), riffle (in a stream) (probably from ripple and ruffle). Perhaps travelogue (travel+monologue), Luther Burbank’s pomato (potato+tomato), slanguage (slang+language), and thon (that+one) 47 will one day follow. Boost (boom+hoist) is a typical American blend. I have a notion that blurb is a blend also. So, perhaps, is flunk; Dr. Louise Pound says that it may be from fail and funk. 48 Aframerican, which is now very commonly used in the Negro press, is not American, but was devised by Sir Harry Johnston. 49 Allied with the portmanteau words are many blends of a somewhat different sort, in which long compounds are displaced by forms devised by analogy with existing words. Printery (for printing-office) appeared very early, and in late years it has been reinforced
Note 46.  Clipped Words, Dialect Notes, vol. iv, pt. ii, p. 137. [back]
Note 47.  Thon was first proposed by C. C. Converse, of Erie, Pa., in 1858, as a substitute for the clumsy he-and (or) -she and him-and (or) -her. [back]
Note 48.  Blends; Heidelberg, 1914, p. 25. (Anglistische Forschungen, heft 42.) See also her Stunts in Language, English Journal, Feb., 1920, p. 91 ff. [back]
Note 49.  “He uses it,” writes James W. Johnson, the Negro poet, “in his The Negro in the New World, 1910. He may have used it in some earlier publication also.” [back]


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