I have always loved words. I especially love word play such as
- alliteration (the occurrence of the same letter or sound at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words, such as “She sells sea-shells down by the sea-shore”),
- onomatopoeia (the naming of a thing or action by a vocal emulation of the sound associated with it, such as babbling brook, buzzing bees, crackling fire) and
- portmanteaus (word blending the sound of two different words) such as slithy (slimy and lithe) in Jabberwocky).
We are in the United States but today is National Poetry Day in Britain. Thus I based this post on a portmanteau as Lewis Carroll was a British poet and the person who coined this meaning of portmanteau. (It had already been in use since the 1580’s to refer to a travelling case for clothes, etc.)
In Alice in Wonderland (1871), when Alice asks the meaning of the poem, “Jabberwocky,” Carroll has Humpty Dumpty explain:
Well, “slithy” means “lithe and slimy”. “Lithe” is the same as “active”. You see it’s like a portmanteau — there are two meanings packed up into one word.
Portmanteaus are still used today, such as:
- animatronic – animate and electronics
- Bollywood – Bombay and Hollywood
- brunch – breakfast and lunch
- chocoholic – chocolate and alcholic
- cyborg – cybernetic and organism
- glamping – glamour and camping
- infomercial – information and commercial
- internet – international and network
- malware – malicious and software
- modem – modulation and demodulation
- smog – smoky and fog
- telethon – television and marathon
- workaholic – work and alcoholic
What is a mongrosity?
Mongrosity is a blending of “mongrol” and “monstrosity” and is my own portmanteau for our one year old cat’s (Johnny) antics at times. Such as when I try to stop her from doing something that could be dangerous (such as chewing on charging cords) and she reacts by kicking off of some part of my body with her very sharp and powerful back claws so that I end up with a deep enough cut that I am left with a lasting scar. I have several scars of that type from her.
It also applies to some of her other shenanigans such as when despite all of the cat beds in the house, she decides to sleep inside of my nightstand instead and in the process knock out the books I keep there because they are in her way.
Nonetheless, despite the surplus of new gray hairs we have both acquired since Johnny came into our lives, if we had it to do all over again knowing that we would get Johnny out of it, we would do so in a heartbeat. She can definitely be a mongrosity at times but our lives (Jamey’s, Night’s and mine) are far richer for having her in them.
So today’s gratitude is for unexpected blessings as when we initially trapped Johnny’s mother, we didn’t even know she was pregnant (or Feline Leukemia positive) and were just expecting to do a standard feral cat “trap-neuter-release” (after holding on to her long enough for her to heal from her spay first). We were appalled when the vet said that not only was she pregnant, she was just a few days from delivery. If we had not gone through that very stressful time, we would not have the blessing of Johnny today.
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Also published on Medium.