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Mountaineering Compound words - the limits of spelling checkers
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ArticleId: 4365 Written: 2015.05.13 by: Robin Tivy

Here's a list of compound words that you see in Bivouac trip reports. Specifically, the grammar people call them "closed compound words", where closed means no hyphen. In German, the rules are that you can run together any number of nouns to make a single word but in English they typically are only 2 words. The rule of when to do this is if the combined word has a distinct meaning, separate from each of the two words. For example, and "icefall" is something more than just what you'd get from the words "ice" and "fall". As with any modifications to the language, it is worthwhile to consider the pros and cons. Just doing things differently for no good reason just makes it harder to do things.

The advantage of compound words is they have distinct meanings. The disadvantage is that their spelling cannot be systematically checked. Of course you can add them to your spelling checker, as I do, but it is more complexity.

So I thought I'd start a list of some of the compound words I've typically encountered in Bivouac trip reports:

  clearcuts
  daypack
  downclimb
  freeboard
  hardpack snow
  headwall
  gravesites
  icefall
  icefields
  iceflow
  iceaxes
  lunchtime
  meadowed
  ropelengths (not very good)
  subalpine
  supergaiters
  townsite
  windburnt

Part of the discussion is the difference between terms and words.

http://www.grammarly.com/handbook/mechanics/compound-words/


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