Thursday, June 28, 2007

June 28, 2007 - Roomate*

If you have to share quarters in the Hundred Acre Wood, you could do a lot worse than Kanga and Roo, mates! Roomate* shows up 15 times in OhioLINK, making it a typo of moderate-to-high prob­ability on the Ballard list. Though roommates can crowd you, there should be enough room in there for both the M in room and the other one in mates. This sort of elision is rather common, though, and often plagues the spelling of such words as newsstand, bookkeeper, bathhouse, override, and withhold. "Tiddely pom," says Winnie-the-Pooh. And "Rum-tum-tum-tiddle-um." We, on the other hand, can not afford to be so fancy-free with our compound words. In most cases where two become one (like roommates who've fallen in love), all letters become joint property of the new word. (Picture shows the original Kanga and friends, now residing in the Donnell Center at the New York Public Library. Sadly, Roo was misplaced in an apple orchard in the 1930s.)

Carol Reid

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