Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Michelle Kaplan
"The New York Radio Girl"

Have you heard people say that they are taking a staycation in English?

Do you hear a lot of these combined words used and wonder what they really are?

We’re looking at what a portmanteau is, how it is used in conversation, and what makes this sort of thing up.

This may actually be a beneficial lesson even for natives, as this is a newer concept and nobody really knows the true definition of this aspect of English.

Lindsay was looking into doing an episode about the word “staycation” and when researching for the episode, she learned about this entirely new concept that will be helpful for you to learn about today.

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Understanding A New Concept In English

There may be some terms or phrases that are new to you, particularly when it comes to English usage.

When you break down what category these fall into or how this all works, this can take a bit of background and experience.

For example, you probably haven’t heard of the term “portmanteau” in English—though you may be using these in your conversations all the time.

Do you know what a portmanteau is?

This is a big word that even natives may not necessarily know the definition of, though these can be a very frequent part of conversation.

From the dictionary a portmanteau is “a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel (from ‘motor’ and ‘hotel’) or brunch (from ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’).

What’s funny is that they list the following example–“podcast is a portmanteau, a made-up word coined from a combination of the words iPod and broadcast.”

We have used so many of these before on the show, and even in real life when we are talking to somebody about a wide array of different subjects.

Think of things that you hear or say each day like “sitcom” or even “hangry.”

So you hear these and likely even use them in your conversations, but you probably never knew that there was an actual name for them.

We’ve used them on the show and so you have heard them as a regular part of English speaking, but likely never really thought about what they were.

We’ve even done an episode on blends, but now we have an actual name for this.

In general, some portmanteaus are very obvious and well known, but some may surprise you.

We will do some obvious ones today, and then we can do a follow up in the future.

This is just how common this aspect of conversation has become, and so you want to be sure that you understand them and how they work.

So today we will share some fun ones, as well as some that you may not have heard because there are more than you may realize.

You also want to remember that these are not compound words, rather they are short words that make up a new word.

We may have done some of these words before, but we wanted to touch on them in this way because it’s such a fun part of English speaking.

Real Life Examples

Have you heard these used in conversation?

Now that you know that the actual definition of a portmanteau, you want to see what some of the more common ones are.

You want to be sure to listen for them, and then start to use them because they are here to stay and add a fun twist to your conversations.

We are also putting conversational questions within each example because these can be helpful to think through.

  • Staycation: This is basically a stay vacation, so it means that you are staying at home for your vacation. You may have time off and you are spending it at home. You may be getting things done around your home, or you may even be visiting local attractions around your hometown. Have you ever had a staycation? Do you like this idea? Within 2020 and the pandemic, people took staycations because it was safest and easiest.
  • Mocktail: This is a mock cocktail, and these are often intended for kids, teenagers, or just those that don’t drink when dining at restaurants. This allows you to feel like you’re drinking a fancy drink, but without the alcohol. When you were growing up, did you ever have mocktails? Think of things like fancy strawberry daiquiris or pina coladas. They may almost feel like smoothies, though they have evolved quite a bit in recent years.
  • Netiquette: This is all about internet and etiquette, and so you combine the two. This has become a big issue in recent years with so many people online and actively using social media. In a way, you may feel that netiquette has become more important than regular etiquette? What is an important piece of netiquette? Do you follow all of these rules when you are online? This is a very timely and important one because it’s something that applies to all of us.
  • Edutainment: This is education and entertainment- that’s exactly what we are here at AEE! It’s all about learning something new with the education, but also being entertained in this environment. It’s the perfect combination as it has benefits but also keeps you entertained. It’s good here at AEE because you can enjoy what you are learning. It’s great for kids too so that it holds their attention. Why do you think edutainment has become so popular?
  • Combining dog names: You hear this more and more such as with puggle which is a Pug and a Beagle. A dog breed that has gained in popularity is a labradoodle, which is a Labrador retriever and a Toy Poodle. We could do an entire follow up just on the newer dog breeds alone, but you get the idea here. Do you find puggles, labradoodles, or other combined dog breeds to be very cute?

So are some of these words popular and widely used?

Are these words informal or formal in your conversations?

It really depends on the context and who you are talking to, because you can have formal or informal portmanteaus.

Roleplay To Help

In this roleplay, Lindsay and Michelle are talking about a future vacation.

Lindsay: “So where should we go? Or should we just take a staycation and explore our area?”

Michelle: “What are we gonna do? Drink mocktails in my backyard?”

Lindsay: “Eh, I see your point. Oh man, look at this email. My friend has terrible netiquette.”

Michelle: “Wow. Eh, don’t worry about it. Should we watch some edutainment? I want to learn more about bees.”

Lindsay: “Sure!”

Takeaway

This form of language is extremely common, and so it’s important to understand it so you can use it in conversation.

Though this isn’t something that you would likely learn in a textbook, it’s a very helpful aspect of taking your English speaking up a notch.

Does this sort of thing happen in your native language?

This can be an interesting thing to not only understand, but also to talk about.

It can help you to understand other cultures, and it can lead to some great connections too.

Listen for examples, and then be sure to try these out in your conversations today!

If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments section.

We’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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