Wednesday, April 29, 2015

'Bleisure' portmanteau makes for strange bedfellows

'Bleisure' portmanteau makes for strange bedfellows

San Diego Jewish World humour column

"'Bleisure'? Blah!" -

by ''Leinad Moolb''
BLEISURING in DUBAI -- I am not a connoisseur of words by any means, and my working vocabulary is actually quite limited, but everyone once in while as I navigate the internet, I come across new words and terms that give portmanteau words their money's worth.
Case in point: "bleisure," a portmanteau combination word created by putting ''business'' and ''leisure'' into the word blender. I saw the word in a newspaper headline the other day in an English-language newspaper here in Taiwan, where an Associated Press wire service editor used it in a headline about a travel story about tourist spots in Dubai.
The author of the AP article, Aya Batwary, had the good sense *not* to use the ''bleisure" term in her text at all, and never used it at all in her story, *but* one of her supervising editors in New York decided to stick it to readers in the headline I guess.
When I emailed Batwary in Dubai to ask her about this new ungodly portmanteau -- and ''a terrible neologism',' as the Economist magazine in London has called it -- she replied 10 minutes later in internet time: "Hey, take it up with the AP travel editor."
So I did. I am still waiting for the travel editor's reply --  Beth, I think her name is, Beth Harpaz. ***[UPDATE: She did reply to me, two angry emails, in fact! Oops!]
Here's some background  in this portmanfail brouhaha.
The headline in a recent Taipei Times wire story read: "Blissful 'bleisure' - travelers to Dubai are combining business with leisure and soaking up the sun and souq."
And notice that the word "bleisure" was in quotes in the Taipei Times headline, in order to signify to readers that the term was not a real word and was being used with scare quotes surrounding it.

The worldly Yiddish word maven and former New York Times "On Language" columnist Wiliiam Safire -- l'z -- knew a thing or two about how some portmanteau words fly and how some fail, so I decided to channel the Bill Safire spirit and get his take on this "bleisure" nonsense.

Back in the day, I used to be one of Safire's ''Lexographic irregulars," a group of readers who looked up to him for advice and comment, and he even quoted one of my letters to him as part a book he wrote long ago.
When I asked Safire about the misery of a portmanteau fail, by channeling his revered spirit from my home in Taiwan, he replied: "As you know, Dan, portmanteau terms are named after the French suitcase with hinged compartments -- chuckle and snort blended into chortle, breakfast and lunch fused into brunch, and, in our time, broadcast and the World Wide Web morphed into webcast (still capitalized as “Webcast” by the New York Times copy czar)."

I asked Safire what he thought of this hotel and travel industry portmanteau -- "bleisure" -- blending business and leisure into an awkward, ugly, weird new term, he replied: "Some portmanteau words work and work brilliantly, but others fail miserably and fall down hard."
There's more. An editorial writer for the Economist started off an article earlier this year:
"How's this for a terrible neologism: 'bleisure'. It is used to describe what some people claim is a new type of business traveller: one who fits in leisure travel while on the road."
As I surveyed a new generation of Lexographic Irregulars for this column, I received mostly a thumbs down response for "bleisure," even though if you Google it, you will see that it has caught on already with the hotel industry and most likely cannot be stopped now.
"I don’t have time for bleisure when I bravel," quipped a reporter in New York.

"If it's not the worst portmanteau of 2015, at least it's pretty bad," tweeted a Manhattan word maven.
But a hotel industry blog that bills itself as ''insights for the new travel industry professional; get smart about how and why you travel,'' likes the new word and used in a tweet the other day.

​"How could 'personalization' play a key role in bringing 'bleisure' to life?" the Tweet asked the blog's 800,000 Twitter "followers.
"Ever met a 'blurker'?" the spirit of William Safire asked me as this San Diego Jewish World humor column was coming to a close. "That’s boosted from lurker, 'someone who reads a forum conversation but doesn’t contribute,' and in a blargon portmanteau means 'one who reads many blogs but leaves no evidence of himself behind.'''
So what's your take on "bleisure" as a new portmanteau term, dear readers? Does it work for you? Is it a roaring success that will live on for decades in the hotel industry or is it a huge ''portmanfail,'' as some bloggers are already dubbing it.
Me, I'm voting it off the Dubai man-made islands. But what do I know?


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