False portmanteau words

Yesterday’s post about the portmanteau word turigrino (and the many followers in its footsteps) leads me to add that there are even what Spanish calls falsas palabras-maleta, as explained at ide3.com. For example, although maniático is a legitimate Spanish word that means the same as its English cognate maniac, the Spanish term could be falsely analyzed as a portmanteau word made up of manía ‘mania’ and ático ‘attic,’ and given the meaning ‘persona obsesionada por vivir en el último piso de un edificio,’ or ‘a person obsessed with living in an attic.’

In a similar way, the English verb commandeer could be misconstrued as ‘to give an order to a deer.’ That may sound far-fetched, but in the neighborhood at the edge of the Texas Hill Country in Austin where I live and where deer abound (their kind were here first), human residents do their best to shoo deer away from eating the flowers that they—the people—have planted in their gardens and that the two- and four-footed dwellers relish for different reasons.

© 2011 Steven Schwartzman

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If you encounter an unfamiliar technical term in any of these postings, check the Glossary in the bar across the top of the page.

©2011–2018 Steven Schwartzman

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