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MLA Issues New Handbook, Still Insists 'Website' is Two Words

Submitted by Leo Klein on Tue, 3/10/09 (5:00pm)

mla_handbook.jpgThe seventh edition of the MLA Handbook has just come out. The Chronicle of Higher Education points to the considerable effort the publishers have made to give this "bible of the undergraduate paper-writing process" a substantial web component. They have a password-protected website that contains the full text of the manual along with a whole ton of support material.

Good for them! It's great they're making such an effort. But what I want to know is why they still refuse to acknowledge that 'website' consists of only one word. Doing so would be a sign of true progress.

UPDATE (2020): Just ask Merriam-Webster...


by Brett Bol on Mon, 3/30/09 (4:14pm)

Umm, maybe because Web site is two words. Web refers to the World Wide Web and should be capitalized. And site is a group of pages that share a URL. Do you also say webpage?

by Leo Klein on Mon, 3/30/09 (4:22pm)

Umm, at some point, style guides need to reflect common usage. Either that or they'll come off sounding like 'Law French' eventually.

If people said and (more importantly) wrote, 'webpage', then the style guides would need to reflect this because, after all, we're talking about a real language.

It's a question of relevance.

by Brett Bol on Tue, 3/31/09 (12:37pm)

Aah, yes, that classic argument that is helping destroy language.
Thanks to that same logic, we have to listen to the term 24-7 used repeatedly and, apparently, correctly.
And "supersize," as in "Supersize my fries," is also accepted.

Great to see such thoughtful leadership in our libraries.

by Leo Klein on Tue, 3/31/09 (12:40pm)

Apropos of the discussion, someone at work just asked me to correct a hyperlink.

This English-speaking person -- born in America, under 30, college educated, probably knows the langauge as good as you or me -- gave her email the following SUBJ:

"Re: website"

So are we going to have a style guide for how people really speak and write or something 'make-believe'?

by Leo Klein on Tue, 3/31/09 (12:46pm)

Languages change. We're not speaking the same language of Shakespeare or Alexander Pope.

But we're not even talking tradition here. The way 'website' is misspelled in style-guides is simply a throwback to how people thought of these things -- and expressed them -- in the 1990's.

by Brett Bol on Thu, 4/2/09 (1:35pm)

Well, considering she "knows the language as good as you or me"
I'll rest my case

by Argh on Wed, 11/27/13 (9:32pm)

People use "website" instead of "web site" or "Web site" out of ignorance (actually, in most contexts capital or non-capital "Web" is valid, but capital is more specific).

It is a site of type "web". There are other kinds of sites too, including "FTP site", "gopher site", and "archie site".

Oddly, even most people who spell it as one word, do not speak it out loud as one word, and it sounds very odd when somebody does speak it as one word.