A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Shipping – The Toast
Why this is useful for linguistics as a whole
So this is pretty cool, but how did ling-friend Cara DiGirolamo actually get a study of ship names published in a linguistics journal?
Well, ship names are part of a broader phenomenon of blends in English, from Lewis Carroll’s slithy (slimy and lithe) to why we have brunch and smog rather than leckfast and foke. But people don’t actually go around creating blends all that often — one delightful study of English blends looked at 63 of them, from the well-formedguesstimate, mansplaining, and sexpert to the baffling fozzle (fog+drizzle), brinkles (bed+wrinkles), and wonut(waffle+donut). But while 63 is quite a large corpus when it comes to real-life blends, it’s nothing when it comes to fandom: there’s more than that in ship names from the cast of Glee alone.
The fannish culture that ship names are embedded in helps too. DiGirolamo points out that another way blends get created is for advertising campaigns, where they may become popular through sheer paid-for exposure even if they aren’t that great linguistically (see phablet). The fandom process is decentralized and democratic: a ship name lives or dies on its own merits. And while ad execs and literary punsters have a lot of flexibility in terms of whether they choose to use a blend or not, show creators don’t name their characters based on which combinations will make shippable blends, so ship names are also a unique opportunity to see how people cope with words that are seriously difficult to combine.
And that, my friends, is why we need fan-guistics.
(THIS IS THE COOLEST ARTICLE… Read it all at the link… it all makes sense now… Props to the acafans…)