Sporking about with the lingo

By: Blogger

Brian Rogers
Rogers Rabbits

Some of the world’s most troubling dilemmas have been tackled on this page in the 18 years Rogers has  been Rabbiting.

One of those issues was solved in 2015 when we finally clarified, for the benefit of the world, the correct protocol for use of a spork.

At the same time, we attempted to shed some decency on the dress standard of Donald Duck, who resolutely refuses to wear pants. Up until this time, the two subjects had not been connected, and probably still shouldn’t be.  

But as you know, logic has no place on page two of The Weekend Sun.

Now the spork/knork field has all been thrown into disarray with the development of yet another piece of hybrid cutlery:  The Splitter.

This device is made up of two components – a long spork and a spatula – that can join forces to become a set of tongs. They do so by way of a keyhole slot at the base of the spork’s handle that accommodates and locks a pin in place at the base of the spatula’s handle.

From there, the one-millimetre thick titanium material offers just the right amount of flex to get tonging. It’s being promoted by the company Full Windsor and is much more sophisticated than the spork.

As we discovered back in ’15, no-one has really ’fessed up to inventing the spork.

Was it accidental? Did a spoon maker go completely bonkers and put spikes on a spoon, or did a fork maker have a midlife crisis and inadvertently add a scoopy bit on the wrong piece of cutlery?

Perhaps the forklift from the fork factory collided with the spoon truck from the spoon factory (presumably at a fork in the road)?

Should the question mark be there, or after ‘factory’? And who decided it would be called a spork? Why wasn’t it a foon?

Our resident language geek tells us that words created from two are called portmanteau words. The original refers to a piece of baggage, with two compartments.

Blame the French. Well, according to Wikipedia (possibly a portmanteau word itself), sporks are also known as foons.

“Spork-like utensils, such as the terrapin fork or ice cream fork, have been manufactured since the late 19th Century; patents for spork-like designs date back to at least 1874, and the word ‘spork’ was registered as a trademark in the US and the UK decades later. They are used by fast food restaurants, schools, prisons, the military, backpackers and in airline meals.”

We can probably thank Samuel W. Francis, who was issued a US patent in 1874. Harry L. McCoy also came up with a clever thing, a cutting spoon patented in 1908. Harry, as far as we know, didn’t come up with a catchy name though.

Some would say unless it’s a spork, it’s not the real McCoy. And then there’s a knork, which Mr Wiki says is a hybrid form of cutlery which combines the cutting capability of a knife and the spearing capability of a fork into a single utensil.

Roald Dahl writes that his father invented an early version of the knork as a result of losing an arm. Horatio Nelson, minus an arm, also used a fork with a cutting edge, known as a Nelson fork. I’ve seen some interesting knorks in my time, but none of them have been that pointy.

English boffins tell us the blended words are known as ‘portmanteau’ which is combining two words to make a new one.

I have no idea what portmanteau means  but you can blame Lewis Carroll, who first used it in that context.

Then we got smog - a combo of smoke and fog, in case you didn’t know. Followed by wurly, hair that is wavey and curly at the same time. Confused? Let me explain it over brunch. Then there’s a whole gaggle of company contrived labels. Such as Microsoft, and even the tradename Velcro - a combination of velour (velvet) and crochet (hook). A skort is a mash up of skirt and shorts. Probably still not acceptable to Donald. However, he should be concerned about ‘turkducken’, which was added to the Oxford Dictionary in 2010.

It’s a culinary masterpiece in which a chicken is inserted into a duck (take its pants off if necessary); and the duck into a turkey.

You’ll need a spork for that. Then someone, probably trying to cover their backside, coined the phrase ‘guesstimate’ and more recently our attempts to chill out and relax at the same time have resulted in a chillax. Even celebrities have jumped on the portmanteau wagon, with merged name combos that have given us the cringeful Brangelina, TomKat and Beniffer.

I guess it won’t be long before we see some new combinations, such as: Dexting = Driving and texting. Apologies to Dexter. Craptacular = Used to describe entertainment that is so gut-wrenchingly terrible, you can’t take your eyes off it. Please feel free to send in your ideas for new words.

We’ll publish them here first, so you’ll  be noted in the annals of history as the official inventor.

In the meantime, if I catch any of you dexting, I’m going to spork your eyes out.