It appears we have reached Peak Phablet — and not just because sales are up and the big-screen cellphones were all over the Consumer Electronics Show this week. No, we have also reached Peak "Phablet" — the term for the popular (and quite awkward) devices has also this week been called "horrible," "stupid," and "worst word of the year" (to which we're about two weeks in). The name itself has become as popular to loathe as the gadgets have to buy. Even linguists says so:
Problem No. 1: A Poor Blend
"A satisfying blend is derived from two words that overlap in their sounds, such as motor+hotel = motel, where the 'o' is shared," University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Gene Buckley wrote to us Friday. "But phone and tablet don't share any sounds at all, so that might be why it sounds clumsy."
Problem No. 2: A Bad "ph" Scale
English words generally use "ph" as eff for words from Greek origin, Ben Zimmer explained today in his Word Routes column. Now "phablet" obviously isn't Greek, but the Greek words it conjures sound kind of gross, Stanford linguistics PhD candidate Lelia Glass told us; a lot of "ph" words followed by the letter "a" happen to be body parts — "like 'phallus' and 'phalanges,' which perhaps grosses people out," Glass said.