April 13, 2015

Irritating Closed Compounds

The beginning of the baseball season has reminded me of one of my pet peeves—the closing up of compounds that produce spellings that invite misreading or mispronunciation. For example, when one writes ground out as groundout, the resulting word looks as though it should be voiced as groun-dout, which obscures the meaning. The word I find most annoying, however, is fundraising (along with fundraiser, etc.). The word appears to be fun-draising. (A related peeve is the use of fundraise as a verb. Why say He will fundraise for the charity instead of He will raise funds for the charity?)

Many compounds that began as open compounds or hyphenated ones get closed, and the language is no worse for the development. Railroad comes to mind. In past times, it was written as rail road or rail-road. The modern spelling cannot be wrongly divided into syllables, since the digraph lr is unknown in English. Other innocuous compounds include driveway, carriageway, dishwasher, cowboy, sideline, etc.

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