Joined-up writing

Backoffice. Accountmanager. Two English words glued together, used as a compound in Dutch. Which doesn’t make it correct in English! And it’s easy to check if it should be two words.

I’ve built up quite a list of them over time during my correction work. Here are a few excellent examples that should all be two separate words, all from real life:

  • touringcar
  • beachhouse
  • backoffice, frontoffice
  • accountmanager, casemanager, salesmanager
  • callcentre, callcenter
  • comfortzone
  • fastfood
  • harddisk, harddrive, diskdrive
  • lastminute
  • sciencefiction
  • teambuilding
  • touroperator

The trick is to check them using restrictied searches such as site:.uk (or even better site:.gov.uk) so that you won’t pick up so many non-native texts.

Prevalence: moderate. Presumably because these are things that people think they know and therefore don’t check.
Frequency: high. ICT seems to be a good source of them in particular.
Native: no. Although languages are dynamic and who knows? Maybe some of them will be seen as correct before long!

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

3 thoughts on “Joined-up writing

    1. Certainly should! Yes folks – there’s no excuse for not running your text through the spelling checker. (Even though it’s admittedly not perfect, it will at least give you some idea of things you should look at a bit more closely!)

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  1. And FWIW I’ve just had to make exactly that kind of check myself… I know I’ve seen both “task force” and “taskforce” in native texts, but are both equally correct? Or is one form more common in American English and the other in British English?

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