Rantings of a sub-editor

April 29, 2010

We must stop this bloodsportmanteau

Filed under: Charlie Wright,guest writers — substuff @ 10:47 am
Tags: , , ,

Stop it, now. Not everything can be the subject of a zeitgeist-capturing portmanteau.

I can just about handle moobs (as it were). There’s at least a difference between the lumpen bags of flesh dangling from overweight Geordie men and the heaving globes of Gaia that adorn the fairer sex like twin suns in a golden dawn.

It almost, just about, makes sense to call them something else, even if the stupid abbreviated form is actually more witless than simply calling them man-boobs.

Man-bag actually works pretty well, in that it too describes a real thing. You know, a bag that a man might have but that a woman probably wouldn’t. Mandals? Manwiches? Fuck off.

It’s getting worse. Not long ago it was just ‘man’ that got appended to stuff in a bid to turn a solitary person’s contrived affectation or physical deformity into a Sunday supplement trend-piece. Now it’s everywhere.

This week a couple of particularly egregious examples were brought to my attention.

Flexitarian: someone who is, like, totally vegetarian and stuff, but eats meat now and again. Whenever they want to. Someone whose diet is, you know, flexible. Or to put it another way, someone who is not vegetarian at all.

Even worse, and I can hardly bear to type this… ‘masstige’. It describes something for the masses, like coal or gambling, but with the prestige of… well, something you can’t afford. It was used in the context of a supposedly upmarket razor, but would work just as well/badly with, say, crisps laced with powdered panda or vials of Grace Kelly’s wee. Or maybe I’ve missed the point.

There’s so much wrong with the above two examples that it’s hard to know where to begin. Rather than go into the head-slapping idiocy of the concepts themselves, suffice it to lament two more bricks in the façade of our linguistic mausoleum.

Our linoleum, if you will.

Charlie Wright is a journalist, author, blogger, ironicist, part-time sub, full-time beard-wearer and bringer of great joy to the little peoples of the world. He spends most of his time making cruel puns about stuff no balanced mind would care about.



  1. Nice article. My only question is: did you sub Charlie? 🙂

    Comment by Ant — April 29, 2010 @ 10:51 am | Reply

    • she sure did, Ant. it was mostly just random keystrokes until getting some sense knocked into it by the Ranting Sub.

      Comment by charlie wright — April 29, 2010 @ 11:17 am | Reply

      • Charlie’s being modest. I added one missing ‘t’, changed ‘4uck’ to ‘fuck’ (he wasn’t being coy, just getting it through our email system) and pondered the ‘suffice it to lament’ before deciding it was right. As well as being eagle-eyed typo killers, subs should know when to leave well alone – and this was one of those times. Good stuff, Charlie. Where do I get the panda crisps?

        Comment by substuff — April 29, 2010 @ 12:14 pm | Reply

  2. I look forward to the description flexibeardian for men who sometimes shave, and sometimes don’t. Unlike Charlie.

    Comment by Kit Davies — April 29, 2010 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

    • i’m pretty sure the Flexibeardian is an electric shaver by Remington. it kept Victor Kiam’s chin so pristine he bought the company

      Comment by charlie wright — April 29, 2010 @ 12:45 pm | Reply

  3. Nice one, Charlie and Substuff: I love the idea of getting guest writers to pen your blog; twice the creativity, half the work. Now if I could only find someone to write my novels for me . . .

    This isn’t quite portmanteau but, inspired by “flexitarian”, may suggest “binge smoker” as a neologism. I am one. What I mean is that I’m a non-smoker who only smokes when he is drunk – and then some. Actually, if I know I’m going out on the razzle, I buy a packet. Next day, hungover, penitent and stinking like a 70s (70’s or Seventies, depending on your style guide of choice) pub carpet, I give up the fags again. I’ve been doing this for about five years now and it seems to be working for me. Well, I haven’t got cancer yet (touch wood), and my wife seems to be pretty much OK with it.

    Just have to say again how much I like this blog. All the best, Angus

    Comment by Angus Donald — April 29, 2010 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

    • Hehe, you caught me! It’s hard finding the time and inspiration to write every day, especially press day, and I always intended the blog to be a collaborative affair eventually.

      I’m not sure the NHS will be endorsing the cancer-avoiding properties of binge smoking, but as far as my mental style guide goes, it’s in!

      Comment by substuff — April 29, 2010 @ 3:38 pm | Reply

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