The ever-evolving modern English language

The ever-evolving modern English language

Recently, while posting on Instagram, I came across a fabulous new word – pareidolia – which is when you notice something familiar in an object – for example, when people see faces in clouds or when you think your car looks like it has eyes and a mouth. The fabulous thing about the English language (or any language) is that there are always new words to learn.

Today, while drinking a cup of coffee in the college, I heard a word that I had never heard before – babyccino. If you’ve also never heard that word before, it means a cappuccino for children. The idea is that they child can be like their parent (there is no caffeine in the babyccino). Obviously there is something deeply worrying about young children being casually prepared for adult habits in this way (when I was younger, we were given candy cigarettes!), but it made me think of another word that I love – portmanteau.

A portmanteau is when you take two words and mash them together to create a new word. For example, smog is a portmanteau (Smoke + Fog). Or RomCom (romantic comedy). Portmanteaus are common in food – cheeseburger is an obvious example. I think portmanteaus are very interesting because they are so common in modern life. Because of all this new technology, we need new words for things that didn’t exist before. The solution: portmanteaus. So you get email (electronic + mail), netiquette (internet + etiquette), skype (sky + people to people), podcast (Ipod + broadcast).

And all of this then comes into modern popular culture. For some reason that I don’t understand, famous couples lose their individual identity and become portmanteaus. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie become Brangelina. Newspapers talk about Kimye, referring to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. So could you do the same with your EAP teacher Conall and Physics teacher Stephen? Would it be Conephen? Or Stenall? (Actually, if you like portmanteaus, ask your Maths teacher in DIFC what he has for Christmas dinner!)

So what does this all mean? I have no idea. But portmanteaus are interesting and the way we use them is certainly intriguing. But babyccinos! That’s going too far!

Image source: Surprisinglives.net