You’re a bone idle layabout, you know that?
Now, before you start telling me you’ve regrouted the bathroom tiles whilst cleaning the floor with the mop gripped between your big toes and you’ve polished the windows with … Hang on, what did you polish the windows with? Nevermind, I’m best not knowing.
Anyhow, I don’t mean you personally. Well, I do mean you, but I also mean me, him, her, them and everyone else on the planet.
You see, without laziness and a huge helping of ingenuity, human beings wouldn’t have thought …
Sod this carrying rocks and logs and woolly mammoth steaks up to the cave each day, Ugg. What about I cut slices from the log and mount them on poles? Then I can stick a board on top of the round things and push the lot up the hill. That way I can keep one hand free for fending off that sabre tooth tiger. Too late. Aaaah!
Okay, the invention of the wheel probably wasn’t quite like that, but you get my meaning. Human beings have a long history of using their oversized cortices to find ingenious ways of having to do less.
Don’t own slaves? Can’t even afford badly paid servants? Want a clean carpet but your just too damn messy? Then why not invent the vacuum cleaner?
Want to travel the world but not keen on sailors, bilge water, rats or bouts of chronic vomiting? Then forget ship travel and invent the aeroplane instead!
Human history has been stuffed with opportunities for some bright spark to save us all from expending energy. And this craving for indolence doesn’t just stretch to the physical world. It also manifests itself in language.
Now, there are few of us who don’t use contractions when talking – I used one just then. But human laziness means we don’t just want to drop the odd letter here and there – we’re more inventive than that.
Today’s Wednesday Word Tangle is
No, not the lovely big leather bags so beloved of Victorian baddies and sinister physicians – ooh, the intruments!
I mean portmanteau words, where someone has thought,
Life’s too short to use two separate words to describe one thing. Let’s just drop whole syllables and smoosh what’s left together in some kind of Frankenstein’s monster stitch up.
Sometimes they work and capture a sliver of extra pizzazz along the way … GLITTERATI: (glitter and literati). Sometimes the result is similar to someone taking two really ugly dogs and letting them breed. Result? A HEROICALLY UGLY DOG. For instance, SPORK (spoon and fork).
Less offensive are words such as MOTEL (motor and hotel): MOOBS (man and boobs) and METROSEXUAL (metropolitan and hetrosexual).
These words are obvious mongrels, but here are a few you might not even think of them as portmanteaus.
NAPALM (napthlene and palmitate): MOPED (motor and pedal): BIOPIC (biography and picture)
Know any good portmanteau words? Then do share. The weirder the better, please.
Thanks to Kat, the founder of W4W