Portmanteau to libfix

OUT magazine June/July 2011, p. 21, letters about Glenn Greenwald:

I could not admire Greenwald more – they don’t call him Glennzilla for nothin’. (Glenn Marc)

Glennzilla’s writing is often depressing, … but following his column has made me a more savvy observer of our political process. (Bob S.)

Yes, Glennzilla (many more cites), attaching the libfix -zilla to Greenwald’s first name. In turn, -zilla has been liberated from Godzilla, which began life as a portmanteau in Japanese (Gojira) — a not uncommon development of a libfix from a portmanteau.

[About Greenwald, from the Wikipedia entry:

Glenn Greenwald (born March 6, 1967) is an American lawyer, columnist, blogger, and author. Greenwald worked as a constitutional and civil rights litigator prior to becoming a contributor (columnist and blogger) to Salon.com, where he focuses on political and legal topics. [He’s also the author of three books.]

He’s gay, and partnered.]

The libfix -zilla (connoting size, significance, awesomeness, or fearsomeness) hasn’t made it into Michael Quinion’s affixes site yet, but instances have been chronicled elsewhere:

mumzilla (here) and planzilla (here) in the Double-Tongued Dictionary

promzilla (here) and bridezilla (here) in Word Spy

panty-hose-zilla (here), beardzilla (here), and godcomplexzilla (here) in Wordlustitude

No doubt there are many more impressive -zillas to be found.

Now about Godzilla, from the Wikipedia entry:

Godzilla (ゴジラ Gojira) is a daikaijū, a Japanese movie monster, first appearing in Ishirō Honda’s 1954 film Godzilla. Since then, Godzilla has gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd. The monster has appeared in numerous other media incarnations including video games, novels, comic books, television series, and an American remake.

Gojira (ゴジラ?) is a combination [that is, portmanteau] of two Japanese words: gorira (ゴリラ, “gorilla”), and kujira (鯨(クジラ, “whale”), which is fitting because in one planning stage, Godzilla was described as “a cross between a gorilla and a whale”, alluding to his size, power and aquatic origin.

Godzilla is an Anglicization of Gojira. Splitting off -zilla recuts the parts of the Japanese original, since the dz corresponds to the j of kujira (with the d assigned to the first element in English, the z to they second). Giving us a libfixzilla.

10 Responses to “Portmanteau to libfix”

  1. Ned Deily Says:

    This blog post brought to you by Mozilla. (And you can report problems with it using Bugzilla.)

  2. B.Slade Says:

    Obviously part of the reason behind the extraction of “-zilla” is because “God” is a recognisable English word (standard folk-etymology/eggcornery). But I wonder if “zillion” could have helped/reinforced the sense “huge, enormous”.

    (“Zillion” itself is one of the seemingly arbitrary coinages based on “million” etc., but it pre-dates (1944) the Godzilla movie (1954): http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=zillion )

  3. John Lawler Says:

    I’ve always felt that the alphabetic position of Z at the end of the alphabet lent -zilla, and zillion, and no doubt other words a sort of terminal superlative sense: million, billion, trillion, zillion!

  4. Portmanteau spawns libfix « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] -tini, -kini, and -zilla: These are at various stages of liberation, furthest for -zilla (based on Godzilla), less for -kini (based on bikini) and -tini (based on martini). Discussion of the -ini formatives here, -zilla here. […]

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

    […] 23. POST –zilla AZBlog, 5/22/11: Portmanteau to libfix (link) […]

  6. flymanteaus « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] from a fresh portmanteau, involving the libfix -zilla; see “Portmanteau to libfix”, here, where I note that it connotes “size, significance, awesomeness, or fearsomeness”. So […]

  7. Sexual -zillas | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] 5/22/11, Portmanteau to libfix (link): beginning with Glennzilla, a reference to Glenn Greenwald; and […]

  8. Bandying libfixes about | Sentence first Says:

    […] and –zilla, ‘connoting size, significance, awesomeness, or fearsomeness’, as linguist Arnold Zwicky puts it (bridezilla, hogzilla, […]

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