Thursday, May 16, 2013

Compale (a portmanteau)

I was in a meeting Tuesday and the guy next to me stumbled over his words, saying something would "compale -- I mean, pale in comparison to" something else. I knew what he meant by "compale" before he went on to correct himself; it seemed perfectly obvious to me.
I rather like the idea of "compale" being a word of its own -- it's a little more efficient than the parent phrase, and I can't think of any other single word that already exists to fit this niche.  Although its spelling is nearly identical to "compile," the pronunciation is quite different, so I don't think it would be too confusing.
I am going to look for an opportunity to use this in conversation sometime, and see what kind of reaction I get.
I'm thinking of it as an intransitive verb, used with the preposition "to" -- e.g., Jean Grey's Marvel Girl compales to her incarnation as The Phoenix, at least as far as power is concerned. If I used it as a transitive verb, which takes and acts on a direct object, that would seem too active, as if I should be using it the other way around (The Phoenix compales Marvel Girl). I want to keep the subject as the weaker, more faded counterpart, as in the original phrase, so I'll make the verb intransitive, not transitive.
Compale would be an example of a portmanteau word, a new word created by combining parts of two or more words to make a new one that also fuses their meanings. This is a little different from a contraction, which uses an apostrophe to signal that two words that normally go in sequence are being compressed into one, or a compound word, which simply runs two words together, with or without a hyphen.
A portmanteau is similar to an elision, which omits sounds within a word or phrase for laziness, to fit a poetic meter, or simply because the speaker thinks it sounds better that way. However, eliding a word or phrase doesn't change the meaning, whereas a portmanteau often tweaks the meaning of the parent words so that the definition is also slightly different, although related. For instance, "spork" is a portmanteau word combined from spoon and fork, but it's a little different from each.
What do you think of my plan to try putting "compale" into usage? Do you have a favorite portmanteau word you'd like to share with me?


  1. I like the idea of portmanteau words, and your plan for compale.

  2. I also like this idea. I was working on a song a few years ago and when I revisited it in my file folder today I saw two indecisive lines typed "it sadly compales in the sight of you." And "it sadly pales in comparison to you."
    I then decided to search this word "compales" to see if it could even be used in the way I was attempting to use it and Compale (a portmanteau) came up on What's the Word Now?. I'm all for this portmanteau and it is exactly how I planned to use it.
    So good luck and even though I am not a famous song writer or even well established for that matter I believe I will keep this line as "it sadly compales in the sight of you." as in an act of good faith towards your effort.


Let me know what you think about this!