Word Blending in Formal Languages: The Brangelina Effect

  • Srujan Kumar Enaganti
  • Lila Kari
  • Timothy Ng
  • Zihao Wang
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10867)


In this paper we define and investigate a binary word operation that formalizes an experimentally observed outcome of DNA computations, performed to generate a small gene library and implemented using a DNA recombination technique called Cross-pairing Polymerase Chain Reaction (XPCR). The word blending between two words \(x w y_1\) and \(y_2 w z\) that share a non-empty overlap w, results in xwz. We study closure properties of families in the Chomsky hierarchy under word blending, language equations involving this operation, and its descriptional state complexity when applied to regular languages. Interestingly, this phenomenon has been observed independently in linguistics, under the name “blend word” or “portmanteau”, and is responsible for the creation of words in the English language such as smog (smoke + fog), labradoodle (labrador + poodle), and Brangelina (Brad + Angelina).



We thank Giuditta Franco for fruitful discussions on modelling the outcomes of various XPCR experiments.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Srujan Kumar Enaganti
    • 1
  • Lila Kari
    • 2
  • Timothy Ng
    • 2
  • Zihao Wang
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada
  2. 2.School of Computer ScienceUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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