WORBINING (WORD-COMBINING)

These days sandwiching two words into one is everyday practice; perhaps the most common is ‘chillax’ (chill and relax) though ‘granter’ (great banter) also seems topical.  One can pretty much say anything, even ‘that house is shit, it’s a shouse’ and get a laugh without even having to explain oneself, as long as it is clear which two words have been combined.  We recently heard that this process can be referred to as ‘worbining’ (word-combining).

Though it seems to be increasingly common, this is by no means a new thing.  Freud notices several examples in his joke book (1905) including ‘alcoholiday’ (alcohol holiday) and, from Thomas De Quincey, ‘anecdotage’ (anecdote and dotage, something old people often fall into).  And Freud tells a joke now famous in psychoanalysis to illustrate the point, in which a man meets the wealthy Baron Rothschild and having expected him to be snooty and alienating remarks, ‘he treated me quite as his equal – quite famillionairely,’ meaning; both familiarly, and ‘as a millionaire would.’

Freud doesn’t take the analysis all the way, but he does suggest that it might have to do with economizing – something is saved in shortening and sandwiching words which we derive pleasure from.

Yet, doesn’t it seem that worbining is funny not because it is able to contain two words and mean both (‘I am chilling AND relaxing’) and also not because it means neither one of the two words (‘I am chillaxing, not chilling OR relaxing’).  Rather, worbining is funny because it erases the gap between two words – the thing which usually keeps them apart as meaning two different things.  And yet, the meaning is there nonetheless, almost but not completely undistinguishable from the original. A third word is created, and it operates just like the two words it combines.  The message of worbining is: each word doesn’t relate to a different thing which exists anyway, but it creates them, I can now chillax, where before I could only chill and/or relax.

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