Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

One word or two? (206.6)

It's obvious to me that "web site" is two words. Same with "back yard" and "back seat" when used as nouns (though not when used as adjectives, as in "backseat driver" or "backyard patio set"). It drives me nuts when people use the "wrong" form of "back yard" vs "backyard," and I will probably never stop thinking people are "wrong" when they use "website," no matter how many dictionaries it lands in.

But it's obvious to me that "sandbag" is one word. Last week, the City of Ithaca was offering sandbags to area residents in low-lying areas that might be flooded, and I winced every time I saw people talking about "sand bags" instead of "sandbags."

Maybe if I could figure out why it's obvious to me that "sandbag" is right and "website" is wrong, I could learn to get over the "wrong" spellings.

When I'm writing for certain publications, I learn their "wrong" spellings. TidBITS, for example, long-ago switched to "email" (which makes me see "Emil") and still sticks with "Web site" (as opposed to "web site") on the grounds that it's the "World Wide Web," a proper noun. For the same reason, I believe in "the Internet," not "internet," but don't buy "Web."

I admit it, I'm weird. But then, I'm a linguist.

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