The punmanteau

Today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro hinges on a bit of language play that cuts across two categories of play: it’s a pun based on a portmanteau, a punmanteau:

(#1) A cummerbund in the shape of a Bundt cake (Bundt punning on bund), with a name that’s a portmanteau of the names for those two things: cummerbund + Bundt (cake) = cummerbundt (if you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are only 2 in this strip — see this Page)

(Note: The Cumberbatch is something else entirely.)

(Further note: Wayno’s title for this one is “Frosted Formalism”, alluding to the icing (aka frosting) on the cummerbundt in the cartoon — though Bundt cakes are not necessarily frosted.)

(Yes, both a Posting Through Pain and a demonstration that I’m Not Dead Yet. Life is trying, but it still goes on.)

Natural kinds and sociocultural categories. I’ll put the heavy stuff right up front:  the cummerbundt is also an (absurd) example of the syncretism of sociocultural categories, combining elements from different existing categories (in this case yielding a Bundt cake cummerbund).

Sociocultural categories — like (among many other things) castes, linguistic communities, cuisines (and specific dishes), musical genres, artistic styles, holiday celebrations, and types of sports and games — vary widely across time and place and context, and are also open to splitting into local variants and to the complicating effects of syncretic combinations, giving us fusion cuisines, fusion musical genres, sports like pickleball concocted out of existing sports, and all the rest.

Sociocultural categories are standardly counterposed to categories “given in nature”– natural kinds — like biological species (and higher-level categories in biological taxonomies). Though these technical classifications present a certain number of issues, they do have a strong component of being grounded in some fashion in nature, a component that’s hard to find in sociocultural categories — however “natural” some of them might seem to us, just because we’re accustomed to them.

The cummerbund. From Wikipedia:

(#2) High Cotton brand midnight blue cummerbund (of silk)

A cummerbund is a broad waist sash, usually pleated, which is often worn with single-breasted dinner jackets (or tuxedos). The cummerbund was adopted by British military officers in colonial India, where they saw it worn by sepoys (Indian soldiers) of the British Indian Army. It was adopted as an alternative to the waistcoat, and later spread to civilian use. The modern use of the cummerbund to Europeans and North Americans is as a component of the traditional black tie Western dress code.
… The form of the cummerbund is a wide band around the waist, and its origin as part of black tie determined the acceptable colours. It was adopted as civilian dress, beginning as a largely summer option with informal dinner jackets, such as Burmese fawn and white, it was restricted to the narrow range of colours which accompany black tie. These were predominantly black, sometimes midnight blue to match the trousers, and occasionally maroon (the normal hue for coloured accessories). The pleats face up because they were originally used to hold ticket stubs and similar items, explaining the slang name ‘crumb-catcher’. … The fastening is a ribbon around the back, tied or held shut by a buckle or velcro.

But cummerbunds are now available in a wide variety of colors and patterns; High Cotton has them in black and burgundy, plus black gingham, and several plaid patterns. Other suppliers run riot.

Customarily, the bow tie and cummerbund match in pattern and color. As here:

(#3) High Cotton burgundy cummerbund and bow tie

Bundt cakes. Previously on this blog, my 1/25/15 posting “savarin”, about a ring-shaped cake made with yeast and soaked in liqueur-flavored syrup. For the 2015 posting, the relevant semantic domain was that of moistened cakes. But today it’s ring-shaped (donut-shaped, or toroidal) cakes. Specifically, Bundt cakes. From Wikipedia:

(#4) A Bundt cake with grapes (photo from Wikipedia)

A Bundt cake is a cake that is baked in a Bundt pan, shaping it into a distinctive donut shape. The shape is inspired by a traditional European cake known as Gugelhupf, but Bundt cakes are not generally associated with any single recipe. The style of mold in North America was popularized in the 1950s and 1960s, after cookware manufacturer Nordic Ware trademarked the name “Bundt” and began producing Bundt pans from cast aluminum. Publicity from Pillsbury saw the cakes gain widespread popularity.
… Bundt cakes do not conform to any single recipe; instead, their characterizing feature is their shape. A Bundt pan generally has fluted or grooved sides, and is usually coated to make releasing the cake easier. Like other tube or ring style pans, the central tube allows faster and more even heat distribution when baking large volumes of batter.

Bundt cakes can then get icings of any sort, can be soaked in liqueur, treated any way standard-issue cakes are. You then have an angel food cake or a baba au rhum or a fruit cake or a carrot cake or a chocolate cake or whatever, but if it’s Bundt it’s ring-shaped and fluted. As in the cummerbundt in #1.

2 Responses to “The punmanteau”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    (Note: The Cumberbatch is something else entirely.)

    Beware the Jub-jub bird, and shun
    The frumious Cumberbatch!

    Oh, wait, that’s not quite right, is it?

    Also, this post made me realize that last Saturday, when I wore my now very rarely used tux to a costume ball, I neglected to include the cummerbund, and indeed I’m not sure where it is or whether it made the move last year.

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