Gerrymandering is the re-drawing of district lines in elaborate twisted ways to unfairly influence the weight of votes by district. It’s a cruel political move to dilute the power of demographic areas. In 1812, Governor Elbridge Gerry changed the shapes of districts to skew voting towards his political party. A newspaper commented that the new contorted shape looked like a salamander, and the term was coined. Gerrymandering is an eponym and a portmanteau at the same time. Yeah. That is pretty awesome.
I’ve been thinking about eponyms and portmanteaus a lot recently, because I need a dissertation topic, and those two kinds of word formations make me happy. However, I can’t think of a specific question I could ask and answer in 4 months, and I haven’t found any great research as a jump-off point, so for now I’m just pleased to find a word that combines these two concepts.
Appreciate a word today!January 23, 2012