An appellmanteau

Frank Bruni in the NYT Sunday Review on the 19th, in “La Dolce Donald Trump”, beginning:

In Rome about a dozen years ago, I had a long dinner with Donald Trump.

Only his name was Silvio Berlusconi.

Aren’t they essentially the same man? The same myth?

They have the same obsession with their wealth. Same need to crow about it. Same belief that it’s the irrefutable measure of their genius. Same come-on to countrymen: If I enriched myself, I can enrich you.

They’re priapic twins, identical in their insistence on being seen as paragons of irresistible lust. If hideously sexist utterances ensue, so be it. Loins before decency. Pheromones over good sense.

… [Italians] repeatedly elected [Berlusconi], so that he could actually do what Trump is still merely auditioning to do: use his country as a gaudy throne and an adoring mirror as he ran it into the ground.

Trump is Berlusconi in waiting, with less cosmetic surgery. Berlusconi is Trump in senescence, with even higher alimony payments.

Trumpusconi is a study in the peril and pitfalls of unchecked testosterone and tumescent avarice.

No minced words here. But a nice portmanteau name, combining Trump and Berlusconi into a single appellation.(Berluscrump would also have been possible.)

From Ben Zimmer in Language Log (from 2005) on portmanteaus (aka blends) and the name Scalito:

When people’s names are blended, it often indicates the inseparability of the two blendees. Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee famously bellowed “Woodstein!” when he had difficulty distinguishing the young reporting team of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The ascension of Bill and Hillary Clinton to the White House saw the popularization of Billary — once used endearingly (as in the 1992 campaign when Hillary was using the line, “Buy one, get one free”), but later made pejorative by opponents who ridiculed the idea of a “co-presidency.” More recently, we’ve had a rash of blends identifying celebrity couples: Bennifer, Brangelina, TomKat.

(Portmanteau naming for couples goes one step past the “wording up” of conjoined names, as in the “single word” names RichAndAmy and JeremyAndSara in a recent Zits cartoon. After JeremyAndSara comes Jeremara.)

Scalito is a different kind of onomastic blend [from couple-naming]: an epithet combining elements of two names to suggest a resemblance of one named person to the other [here, of the newly appointed Justice Alito to the already-sitting Justice Scalia]. In recent American political history, such blends have been almost uniformly derogatory.

Bruni’s Trumpusconi goes beyond a perceived resemblance — to virtual indistinguishability. And it’s certainly derogatory. So it’s like Ben Bradlee’s Woodstein, but with a real sting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: