Brief mention: a racy sandwich blend

Michael Krasny, on KQED’s news and public affairs program Forum this morning, interviewed SFSU philosophy professor Jacob Needleman about his recent book “An Unknown World”. Krasny set the stage by summarizing Needleman’s work and his credentials. Along the way, we got Krasny saying:

He’s also genital … general editor of the Penguin Metaphysical Library.

I don’t see anything in the context that would have set this off — but it’s a nice example of an inadvertent sandwich blend, with a piece of one contributor sandwiched in between pieces of the other.

On sandwich blends (and portmanteaus), see Ben Zimmer’s 2006 Language Log piece, here (crediting John Algeo for the central taxonomy of examples). In this case, we have

contributor A, general: A1 gen-  +  A2 -er-  +  A3 -al

contributor B, editor: B1 ed-  +  B2 -it-  +  B3 -or

The result, genital, has a piece of B sandwiched in between the two pieces of A.

A somewhat similar (but deliberate) portmanteau is Lewis Carroll’s chortle (from “Jabberwocky”):

contributor A, chuckle: A1 ch-  +  A2 -uck-  +  A3 -le

contributor B, snort: B1 sn-  +  B2 -ort

The result, chortle, has a piece of B sandwiched in between the two pieces of A.

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