Problem No. 1: A Poor Blend
"A satisfying blend is derived from two words that overlap in their sounds, such asmotor+hotel = motel, where the 'o' is shared," University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Gene Buckley wrote to us Friday. "Butphoneandtabletdon'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 efffor words from Greek origin, . 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.
Zimmer has a different theory. "Phablet" isn't the first non-Greek word we've made up with a "ph" making an effsound,but unlike other modern word innovations like "phat" it doesn't have a sense of humor, or at least not a very good one. Zimmer wrote to The Atlantic Wire:
Historically, "ph" has represented the /f/ sound only in words of Greek origin, and extensions of that spelling have been made playfully -- think of the Phillie Phanatic, or "phat" in hiphop usage. In the tech world, "phreak(ing)" led the way (with the "ph-" from "phone"), and then other playful respellings such as "phishing" followed suit. But in "phablet" the "ph-" on its own isn't really enough to suggest the "phone" component of the blend, so it ends up looking like a silly version of "fablet" (a fabulous tablet?). Of course, when the word is spoken, the connection to the "ph-" of "phone" is lost entirely.
Yes, those macho tech writers would not find a fab tablet very funny it makes their manly gadgets sound wussy. Glass notes that the suffix "-et" or "-ette" is often used to signify cute/little things, which give "phablet"another strike against manliness.
Problem No. 3: A BadSubconscious
Face it, Zimmer adds: "Phablet" sounds too much like "flab" and "phlegm" and other words that remind us of things we don't like. But, , phablets look kind of awkward when you hold them up to your ear, despite their many other benefits. An ugly word for an ugly product, no?
Problem No. 4: A Thing Thing
Glass says we might just have "thing discrimination," with everyone disliking the term because it represents the coming of a gadget of which they don't approve. The techies seem to have it out for the big phones, even as people are buying them.
Problem No. 5: A Pure Hatred
"Ultimately, such word aversion is rather arbitrary (look at the hostility against "," for instance)," Zimmer told us. "Some people have a big problem with another techie blend, 'webinar,' but that one seems completely innocuous to me."