A portmanteau is a blend of words where two or more words are combined to form a new word, e.g. smoke + fog = smog.
Today I came across the funny word “snaccident” = “eating an entire bag of chips by mistake”. When posting this in a German group I translated it as “Knabbereur” (Knabberei + Malheur). Then I started thinking about how to translate such words. What about “hangry” (hungry + angry) = “bad-tempered or irritable because of being hungry”? “Hütend” (hungrig + wütend) wouldn’t work in German as this word already exists and means “guarding”. We do have “mütend” (müde + wütend) and “wüde” though which means being tired of the Corona pandemic and angry about the politics (https://www.bedeutungonline.de/was-bedeutet-muetend-wuede-bedeutung-definition-erklaerung/). Hm, maybe “hunausstehlich” (hungrig + unausstehlich, hungry and irritable) could be a translation for “hangry”. I found the suggestion to say “faimché” (faim + fâché) for “hangry” in French.
How would one translate the Japanese “kuchisabishii” (mouth + lonely) = “longing to have or put something in one’s mouth/when you’re not hungry but you eat because your mouth is lonely”: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kuchisabishii-lonely-mouth-mindless-eating_l_5ebdccc3c5b698a29045b714? Apparently, there’s bongry (bored + hungry) in English. Can we also be “monely” (mouth+ lonely)?
How would you translate the mentioned words into other languages? Do you know other funny portmanteau words in English or other languages and how would you translate them?
Hm, I found them to be extremely hard to translate, as in Italian we don’t use portmanteaus too often. Compounds are a little bit more common, but the most natural way would probably be a descriptive adjective plus a noun. Nothing too crazy.
“Snaccident” is an interesting word, but I don’t think I can relate too much to it. If we are describing a situation where we ate too many crisps, I’d suggest “patatinomania” (patatine+mania, crisps plus mania). If we are talking about snacks in general (like being on a diet or trying to eat healthy and realising too late you’ve eaten too much), I’d suggest “ingordigia improvvisa” (lit. sudden gluttony). I like the last one better;
I can’t relate to “hangry” either. I’m more irritable when I haven’t slept, I don’t really mind food too much. Anyway, I’d suggest “fame isterica” (lit. hysterical hunger). This could work well, because it could be associated by a native with the expression “fame chimica” (lit. chemical hunger. I don’t know if there’s an equivalent in other languages, it refers to when you feel hungry after having smoked a lot of weed);
As for kuchisabishii, my mum used to tell me “this is gluttony” (questa è golosia) as a kid when I wanted to eat something not because I was hungry, but because I liked the taste of it. If I have to go creative, I could suggest “bocca vuota” (empty mouth). This could actually work, because it would be the opposite of an empty stomach (stomaco vuoto).
By the way, “portmanteau” in Italian is “parola macedonia” (lit. fruit salad word). I find it funny.
Wow, those are beautiful words! As you said that you’re more irritable when you haven’t slept, how would you call that?
“Lack of sleep”? Jokes aside, let me think about it… maybe “slarpy” (sleep+harpy)? I probably wouldn’t use it though, my mind doesn’t work when I lack sleep.
“Insomniangry”/“Insomnianger”? Or “insomnirritable”?
I thought of “insomnirritable”, but it sounded too complicated to pronounce, so I tried to go for a shorter word.
What about tiritable? It would be pronounced /tʌɪrɪtəbəl/.
I like these kind of words. There are lots of them to describe mixed dog breeds: cockapoo, puggle, labsky…
We don’t really get them in Czech, at least I can’t think of any true portmanteau words. I think it might be because many Czech words are already derived and if you were to remove the first syllable or two, the rest would just be some generic suffix. We are more likely to use the first part of each word rather than the beginning of one + the end of another. We have “beton” for example. That’s a cocktail that contains Becherovka and tonic. It also means “concrete” (building material). A very popular word among those who like baking is “prdopeč” - prášek do pečiva (baking powder). The word sounds funny because “prd” means “fart”. But these are not the kind of words you were looking for.
As for “snaccident”, I thought about it and came up with an actual portmanteau “žráchvat”. It combines “žrát” (to eat but used for animals - a bit like fressen in German, I guess) and “záchvat” (a fit). That would be a crazy eating spell that’s out of one’s control.
The question is: would people instantly understand “tiritable”? In the case of the German “mütend”, the meaning is quite clear.
I remembered two other funny portmanteau words and wondered if there were more of them:
mombie (mom + zombie): a mom that is beyond exhausted but stays up late anyway because it’s her only chance for kid-free time [yes, that’s an accurate description of myself].
smombie (smartphone + zombie): someone who stares gormlessly at their smartphone [a highly popular word in Germany in 2015: https://www.thelocal.de/20151114/are-you-a-smombie-german-youth-word-2016/; well, don’t we all remember those “pokemombies” [yeah, I made this word up], those people who were walking mindlessly everywhere, staring at their phones, while playing Pokemon go [btw, Pokemon is short for pocket monster].
Are there any other known (z)ombies?
The question is: would people instantly understand “tiritable”?
Well, I was hoping to increase the chances by choosing a pronunciation that would make it clearer. Anyway, you get words like “fugly”, where people only know what they mean because it has become common knowledge. The “f” could be anything.
Well, “fugly” is easy to understand as “f” by itself is often used in abbreviations.
I came across some other funny portmanteau words:
snaughle (snort + laugh): To (repeatedly) snort while laughing; snort and laugh at the same time. (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/snaughle)
chortle (snort + chuckle): A joyful, somewhat muffled laugh, rather like a snorting chuckle. Coined by Lewis Carroll in his poem Jabberwocky. (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/chortle#English)
snortle (snort + chortle): To give a hearty laugh that is punctuated by a snort on the inhale. (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/snortle#English)
Ok, I’m snaughling, chortling and snortling all at the same time now.
A really common one I’ve seen on the internet is “badvertising”. I would probably translate this into Japanese as ヤバい広告 and in parentheses provide an explanation or something.
Then there are others that are misleading like “intel”. One would imagine that it would stand for intelligence, but IIRC it stands for integrated electronics. If I was in a rush or not working on some serious document, I would probably mistranslate these kind of words lol.