The Writer's Journal
Our language is peppered with "telescope words," what linguists call "blends." In essence, this is shorthand for what is normally two or more words. So what you have, for example, is brunch (breakfast + lunch), or that big city staple, smog (smoke + fog).
On the surface, telescope words might appear to be a relatively modern invention. Fact is, they've been around for ages. Lewis Carroll, the noted author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, referred to blends as "portmanteau words." In his world, the mid-19th century, a portmanteau was a traveling bag that opened into two compartments. One of the many portmanteau words that Carroll coined is chortle (chuckle + snort).
Going forward, famed 20th-century columnist Walter Winchell could be counted upon for creating new blends, such as cinemactress and guesstimate.
Today, telescope words are in constant use; they're part of our everyday conversation. Think advertorial, camcorder, sitcom and Jazzercise.
Just a fad? Well, faddish, maybe, but the more words we pack into our writing and speaking, the more we find shorthand useful.
Regular or Blends?
Words of all kinds are managed daily at The James River Writing Company. Whether it involves writing, editing or proofreading, we help you get the word out.
If there's no one around -- or no one you trust -- to proof what you've just written, you're on your own. That can be scary. But here are a few tips for finding errors in your own work: First, let some time elapse after you've finished your draft. A day would be good. After that, errors will really pop out at you. Second, don't just edit on the computer screen, print out a copy. Errors show up better on paper! Third, make several passes, looking for different kinds of issues - punctuation first, then grammatical errors and so on. And finally, don't rush the job of finding your own errors. Leave enough time before the deadline to be calm, consistent and thorough!
So how do you write? What do you write? And to whom?
Many people seem to dislike having to put their thoughts down in black and white. For starters, they're way too busy. They consider writing a chore. And as a result of overloaded schedules, many people restrict their writing to emails because that's a speedy way of communicating and they can keep the message short and sweet.
Better still, they'll go on Twitter where they're obliged to get their point across in 140 characters or less. Great time-saver, right?
And of course, there's always that popular pastime, texting. How often do you see someone walking down the street or through the local mall, head down, fingers flying on the 'ol Blackberry (for example) keyboard, totally oblivious of what else might be going on in the immediate vicinity?
Well, here at JRW we're going to talk about writing of all kinds, in all kinds of places and all kinds of spaces. And over time, perhaps we'll be able to shed new light on an old skill.