Syntactic phrase, compound word, portmanteau

(Gay sex talk in street language: use your judgment.)

Encountered today in reports of the slang of young gay men, three words for ‘male anus viewed as a sexual organ, male sexcavity, (figurative) vagina of a man’:

munt /mʌnt/; mussy /’mUsi/, bussy /’bUsi/ (bunt /bʌnt/ is not recorded, but has probably been coined on occasion)

These are portmanteaus derived from the compound nouns man / boy + cunt / pussy, as examined in my 7/26/13 posting on expressions for the male anus viewed as a sexual organ.

Three steps in the tightness of connection between the elements participating in an expression:

syntactic phrase: cunt / pussy of a man / boy, a  man’s / boy’s cunt / pussy (with the head N understood figuratively, as a metaphor)

compound word (word composed of words): man / boy + cunt / pussy (with the second, head, N understood figuratively)

portmanteau (simple word): m / b + unt / ussy

— accompanied (iconically) by increasingly tight semantic connection between the parts: increasing specificity in meaning, especially via additional connotations of the expressions.

I first encountered the portmanteaus in a YouTube video “Old Gays Try New Gay Slang” — you can watch it here — where bussy turned up (pronounced /’bʌsi/, from the spelling). The three old gays (all about my age) were of course baffled by the slang vocabulary of men two generations younger than them, and suggested, quite reasonably, I think, that the faglings might have been watching too much RuPaul (that is, the tv show RuPaul’s Drag Race, now in its 10th season, celebrated for its flamboyance on many levels).

That took me to the Urban Dictionary, where I found three of the four portmanteaus, plus a few examples from texts on the web.

Now, as to semantics. the first step, from syntactic phrase to compound word, is fairly well understood. From my 3/27/18 postng “V-headed compounds”:

The choice is between the syntactic idiom correct (one’s) course and the compound course-correct. Both are amply attested (see some examples of the compound below), so that course-correct should probably go into the OED. But from looking at examples on the web, it seems that the compound is almost always used metaphorically, for correcting one’s course in life, for example, while correct (one’s) course is used literally — for correcting a course in navigation or aviation — as well as metaphorically. As usual, the compound shows a tighter semantic bond between its parts than the syntactic phrase.

In general, compounds show a tighter semantic bond between their parts (usually manifested as greater specificity in the use of the compound vs. the roughly equivalent syntactic phrase.

And then portmanteauing a compound fuses the parts into a single unit and so (iconically) conveys an even tighter semantic relationship between the parts. The fusion of Oreo areolas into Oreolas (in a 6/4/16 posting) takes us from areolas that can be merely Oreo-like to areolas that in fact are Oreo cookies.

For the sexcavity expressions, I can comment some on the semantics here, since I use the compounds myself (in some contexts). For me, the syntactic phrases are merely figurative, but fairly campy, given the extension from the sexcavity words used for women to them used for gay men: Joey’s pussy is way wet and tight.

Using the compounds, however, suggests that the possessor of the sexcavity is preferentially a bottom: Joey’s boy pussy is way wet and tight suggests (though it doesn’t actually entail) that Joey is a pussy boy.

My guess is that the portmanteaus go one step further, beyond suggesting that the possessor of the sexcavity is preferentially a bottom to suggesting that his sexual identity is as a bottom: in a sense, sexually he is a boy pussy, a devoted hole, an uberbottom (such men are staple figures of gay porn, but they’re out there in the real world as well). Having but a few examples, and these without much context, I can only float the idea. And I’m unlikely to have the opportunity to do systematic fieldwork on how young gay dudes understand examples like Joey’s bussy is way wet and tight.

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