Monkey Puzzle Trio

I stumbled on this name (on radio station KFJC) yesterday. It caught my eye both because I’ve posted about the monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria Araucana) and because I admired the portmanteau in this name of a London-based musical group, with its /tri/ overlap between monkey puzzle tree and trio — combining the characteristics of lexical overlap portmanteaus (like slanguage, where two component words overlap in phonological/orthographic content, /læŋ/ LANG) and phrasal overlap portmanteaus (or POPs, like sweet tooth fairy, where two component expressions overlap in a word, tooth). Monkey puzzle trio is part lexical, part phrasal — “lexiphrasal”, like some other examples I’ve posted about.

The musicians and their music. Monkey Puzzle Trio’s account of themselves on their website:

A slowly evolving music project featuring This Heat drummer/lynchpin Charles Hayward, Pinski Zoo and Crackle bassist Nick Doyne-Ditmas and the words, voice and textures of avant-vocalist Viv Corringham, whose music walks a tightrope between song, improvisation and sound-as-sound. “We are making new song forms based on live improvisation. Every song is created in the actual moment of performance.” [V.C]

Together they create a distinctive sound world which is exhilarating and immersive and relies fully on the sensitivity and experience of all three musicians.

Among the songs they’ve recorded is “Araucaria Araucana” on their 2010 album White World.

Background on portmanteau types, from a formal point of view, looking first at lexical portmanteaus. From a 2006 Language Log posting by Ben Zimmer:

let’s consider the structural possibilities for “blends” or “portmanteaus” — words that combine two or more forms [to yield a new word], with at least one of the forms getting shortened in the process. In “Blends, a Structural and Systemic View” (American Speech 52:1/2, Spring 1977, pp. 47-64), John Algeo discerns three main categories of lexical blending:

Blends with overlapping (and no other shortening): slanguage < slang + language, sexpert < sex + expert [AZ: overlap combos]

Blends with clipping (and no overlapping): fanzine < fan + (maga)zine, smog < sm(oke) + (f)og [AZ: clip combos]

Blends with clipping and overlapping: motel < mot(or) + (h)otel, feminazi < femin(ist) + Nazi [AZ: clip-overlap combos]

That’s lexical combination (the combining material is phonological/orthographic parts of words, and the result is another word), but there’s also phrasal combination, notably in POPs like Erin McKean’s sweet tooth fairies (the combining material is expressions, of two or more words each, and the result is another multi-word expression). And there is lexiphrasal combination, with some characteristics of both simple types.

There is a Page on POPs on this blog, with an inventory of postings on POPs, covering both the simple examples and also several lexiphrasal examples. The details vary from case to case. Here I’ve picked three for brief discussion.

Elephantom of the Opera. From a 6/12/11 posting. ELEPHANTOM on its own is a lexical combo, of the overlap type (ELEPHANT + PHANTOM), primarily orthographic (but also phonological); but Elephantom of the Opera is lexiphrasal: phantom is involved both for its orthographic/phonological makeup and for its identity as a word in the four-word title Phantom of the Opera.

Fleetwood Macchiato. From a 3/29/14 posting. in Fleetwood Macchiato, there’s a lexical (phonological) overlap, Fleetwood Mac + Macchiato, but Mac is involved both for its phonological/orthographic makeup /mæk/ MAC and for its identity as a word in the two-word name Fleetwood Mac.

Give it a triceratops / Give-it-a-Try-Ceratops. From a 9/7/2012 posting. The overlap /traj/ is involved both for its phonological makeup and for its identity as a word in the four-word idiom give it a try

And now the excellent name Monkey Puzzle Trio.

One Response to “Monkey Puzzle Trio”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    One of my favorites in this category — and I’m guessing at the spelling here, because I’ve only heard it spoken — is a contra dance, written specially for the first dance after Thanksgiving, called “Trip to Fantasy”, or possibly “Tryptophantasy” (there are lots of dances with names of the form “Trip to $place”).

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