To the next level

Ann Burlingham writes (under the heading “rama-lama-ding-dong”) to report a sighting of diorama-o-rama, with –o(-)rama attached to diorama (there are several variant spellings), and with roughly the meaning ‘a display or exhibit of dioramas’. Lots of hits, many of them for a Dallas art happening and fundraiser (poster below), which includes of course a display of dioramas, but some for people who’ve assembled displays of their own dioramas (sometimes referred to by the clipped version dios).

Formations in -((o)r)ama (that is -orama, -rama, -ama) are playful in tone, like formations in -((e)t)eria for names of shops (carpeteria and the like; some discussion here). Michael Quinion’s Ologies and Isms: Word Beginnings and Endings (Oxford, 2002) treats them under the heading -orama; there’s an on-line version of the entry here, with a compact history of the formative, from panorama (ca. 1789) through several waves of fashion in innovation: cyclorama and diorama early on, then later inventions like Futurama, Cinerama, sensorama, Scout-O-Rama, and more. Now it’s been taken to the next level with diorama-o-rama.

[A note on Quinion’s terminology.  He refers to the formatives in his book as “affixes”, but they are in many ways more like the elements of compound words than like ordinary derivational affixes. True, they are bound elements (except for a handful, like ism and ology, that have been liberated into use as independent words as well as word-internal morphemes), but they have an accent of their own and have the semantics of elements of compound words.

The formatives in Quinion’s books have a variety of sources. A great many (like thermo-, pneumo-, and multi-) are derived from technical terminology built on Greek or Latin roots. Others (like -ploitation and, yes, -orama) come from creative recutting of other words.]

6 Responses to “To the next level”

  1. ArthurDent Says:

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are 124,000 google hits for “obamarama.”

  2. preneurs « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] of the status of -preneur (and other liberated second portions of portmanteaus). As I noted in a posting a while back on -orama (with a passing mention of -eteria), such elements are often loosely […]

  3. Postings on playful word formation « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] 9/10/09: To the next level (link) […]

  4. -orama-orama « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Scout-O-Rama, odourama, smellorama. Then there’s the 21st-century diorama-orama I reported on here, and the predictable Obamarama, reported by a commenter on that […]

  5. Data points: playful libfixes 11/18/10 « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] pointed to earlier postings (with comments) on this blog, here and here, noting the profusion of attested -((o)r)ama words, beyond anything the OED could cope […]

  6. Inventory of libfix postings « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] 6. POST -((o)r)ama  (with a mention of  -((e)t)eria) AZBlog, 9/10/09: To the next level (link) […]

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