On the group blog The Toast on September 30th, a posting by Gretchen McCulloch, “A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Shipping”, about ship names, based on a paper in fan-guistics on the subject. McCulloch writes that there’s

an actual academic paper written about it: The Fandom Pairing Name: Blends and the Phonology/Orthography Interface [with link to an on-line copy] is a paper about ship names. You know, like Johnlock and Brittana and Dramione. It was published in the Journal of Onomastics by Cara DiGirolamo, a linguist and also a friend.

(Hat tip to Paul Armstrong.)

On ship name (ship for short) or shipping name on this blog, see “Shipping and the Johnlock files” from 2/27. Ship names are “relationship names”, referring to portmanteau couples, especially to pairs of fictional couples as presented in fanfic (fan fiction). JohnLock is John (Watson) + Sherlock (Holmes).

(DiGirolamo and McCulloch, like a number of other writers on the subject, use the term blend rather than portmanteau for the combinatory phenomenon.)

McCulloch notes that ship names constitute a valuable resource on portmanteau formation: they provide a huge dataset of examples, spontaneously created by ordinary people, and (as there are alternative ships for a pair of names) winnowed by usage (rather than by conscious selection and dissemination from a single source, as in names in ads).

On The Toast: on its site it says that it’s

a daily blog that publishes features on everything from literary characters that never were to female pickpockets of Gold Rush-era San Francisco.

Co-edited by Nicole Cliffe and Mallory Ortberg. With sections on: feminism; humor; texts from; books.

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