Sunday, 22 April 2007

Word of the day

Today's word is runtogether. Have you noticed that words which might have, in the past, used a hyphen, now just run together? Ever wondered whether there was a word to describe words formed in this way? Here it is. Google has only 650 examples so far, and some of them relate to people running alongside each other, but it is a definite word; I guess domain name formation has a lot to do with it. And there is a clear need for it. Invent your own runtogethers, its easy. Thank you to Tony Boston for the word.

3 comments:

Rebecca said...

In a previous life as an undergraduate editing student (that really takes me back!), we discussed the evolution of words like 'today' and 'weekend'. These are early versions of what would now seem to be called a 'runtogether' but I’m sure were referred to as compound words before that …

'Today' was originally 'to day', but it seems that in the Victorian era, along with other pretensions and excesses, we acquired a whole serious of (superfluous) hyphens. You'll find that original editions of Jane Austen (and even my cheap Penguin copies) use the version 'to-day'.

Ultimately, Australian editors, Macquarie Dictionary compilers and the Government Style Manual (http://www.agimo.gov.au/information/publishing/style_manual) advise us to use the simplest format that still makes sense. As a language pedant, I’m not a big fan of ‘cooperate’ or ‘coordinate’ because they seem unclear and confusing, but these are actually preferred Australian usage now.

The move from ‘programme’ to ‘program’ makes sense, but I’m still sceptical about ‘skeptical’!

Andrew said...

Of course the Germans have been making sticklebrick words for ever. Come to think of it, sticklebrick (Lego?) is itself a runtogether...

libodyssey said...

Ah yes, the infamous German compound noun ... here's an excellent selection.