Originally posted to MySpace on:
June 24, 2007:
The evolution of a word is a strange thing, I think. Sometimes what begins life as two words, whether realistically or conceptually—like “life boat” for instance—can segue to a hyphenated word, and eventually, to a single word—like “lifeboat”—where it gains acceptance in literary circles throughout all English-speaking worlds, including England, America, Australia, and every planet in the Star Wars galaxy. This is a fascinating phenomenon that shows how a word adopted into the English language can never stop on a dime, as scholars and authors are trying new ways to lay it on a page.
Having said this, I feel like I’m facing a conundrum with the word(s) “cell phone.” While ninety-five percent of the world’s applications present it as two words, the Oxford Complete Wordfinder, the authority on all things English—a dictionary for those who can’t see past the double word posing as one—lists it as one word. The meaning is still the same: a cell phone/cellphone is a handheld device used for communicating with another cell phone/cellphone holder. However, the semantics of the latter version makes more sense. After all, its older brother, the telephone, is not referred to as a tele phone, as that would be weird; though, maybe it was in its heyday. In any case, as a writer, I find it difficult to accept one form over another as both have been represented with great authority. Therefore, I think in the end that using either version in fiction, in print, or wherever is acceptable, and that anyone who complains about the presentation otherwise can kiss the author’s butt.
Now that I’ve gotten that out in the open, I will continue combining the word as one to my heart’s content.
That reminds me, the new Lifehouse CD (another double word made single) called Who We Are offers free ringtones to cellphone holders who buy the CD. I might have to take advantage of that.