Designing my first website this week, discussing blogs and the netiquette of cyberspace, got me thinking about how adaptable languages are. English offers so many ways to create new words.

‘Portmanteau’ words

These are examples of blends, or what Humpty Dumpty called ‘portmanteau’ words (Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carrol):

web + log = blog international + network = internet internet + etiquette = netiquette cybernetics + space = cyberspace

These blends have become established pretty quickly, others are so much older the original blending is often forgotten:

because = by + cause electrocute = electrical + execution fortnight = fourteen + nights goodbye = God + be + (with) ye

This morning, dropping her pyjamas on the floor, my daughter declared she was storing her clothes in her “floordrobe”. That’s one portmanteau word I hope doesn’t catch on!