Two Thursday cartoons

From my King Features feed today, two cartoons of linguistic interest: a Mother Goose and Grimm with a POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) and a Zippy that happens to use a playful verb with, it turns out, a long history:



POP goes the mattress. #1 crunches together short-term memory and memory foam mattress, using the shared memory, to get an expression that combines  their meanings: a memory foam mattress that has short-term memory problems. (This blog has a Page on POPs, here.)

The verb transmogrify. This is entirely incidental to the (absurd and surreal) plot of the cartoon, but the text has this verb (“I thought he’d never transmogrify!, said of the Head of God), which is itself playful, even silly. You might expect that such a verb would be a relatively recent innovation — that with time such a verb would have its humor wear off, wear out, would lose its  somewhat silly edge. But no. From NOAD2:

verb transmogrify [with obj.] chiefly humorous   transform, especially in a surprising or magical manner: the cucumbers that were ultimately transmogrified into pickles. ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: of unknown origin.

Probably a deliberate invention, concocted out of words and word parts — ogre might be in the mix — to get a ponderous and silly-sounding alternative to the neutral verb transform. An alternative that’s been with us, still sounding silly, for over three and a half centuries.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: