A rant from a friend: One word or two?

BREADLINE

Is this a breadline…or a bread line?

LIKE MOST OF US DESIGNERS, Marc Stumbo also wants to do right by the words. Marc, who’s the Production Editor at The Beacon in Paterson, NJ, writes:

Hi Ed,
I just had a small rant at our production meeting this week and thought you may want to use it for your blog or your hints. It’s about writers who combine two words to make a word that isn’t a word. For instance:

coalmine
breadline
commonsense
afterall
schoolteacher
ditchdigger

The list goes on–obviously there are a zillion examples. Usually I see it come from young writers, but one of the columnists we use who’s probably my age and writes for CNS (Catholic News Network) came up with “commonsense” in his column this week. Sorry, that’s not English.

Marc

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “A rant from a friend: One word or two?

  1. Schoolteacher is one word according to my Webster’s New World 4, which the the dictionary linked to the AP Stylebook (not style book). And it is not contradicted by AP. So are schoolroom and schoolwork.

    There is a well-worn progression in English from two words, to hyphenated, to one word. So don’t be surprised if some of these others make it into the lexicon.

    After all, we already have homebuyer, homebuilder and homeowner (all AP style). The effective difference between those and “ditchdigger” is???

  2. “Afterall” is pretty egregious, though. It’s almost as bad as using “everyday” instead of “every day.”

  3. Marc

    Thanks for the clarification on “schoolteacher,” Doug. It also seems that “commonsense” is OK if used as an adjective; as a noun it’s two words. (In the case of the column I referred to it was used as a noun.) Same for “everyday.” The learning curve continues … I’ll better research my future rants.

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