Healthcare Equality: the linguistic perspective
I’ll come right out and say it: “healthcare” should be a compound noun. It deserves to be a compound noun. This whole “health care” business is unjust and a waste of a perfectly fine space that might be better placed elsewhere.
How many times must “health” modify “care” before the two are allowed to tie the knot and become united as one? I fully support their right to compound. Were I a baker, I would make them a cake.
It’s not like there isn’t precedent here. Have we forgotten that it wasn’t all that long ago when people thought it was unnatural for “web” and “site” to compound together? The idea that someone might spell them as one word was scandalous.
Yet today, thanks to positive portrayals in the media and more progressive attitudes, most of us don’t even think twice when we see “website” in our daily paper or splashed across a billboard.
Some will evoke the slippery slope to continue to deny “healthcare” its right to compound. “Oh, sure,” they’ll say, “as soon as we allow ‘healthcare’ then people will want to form compound nouns with their first cousins and pets.”
Those fears are spurious at best. I’m not suggesting that we throw out the grammar books and start wantonly cross-breeding words in an orgy of loose usage and promiscuous semantics. We must maintain our linguistic integrity.
But “health” and “care” deserve to be written as one. They’ve been through so much together already that for all practical purposes, they’re every bit as compound as “policeman” and “lemonade.” They just lack the dictionary spelling to make it official.
So won’t you please do your part? Write your elected officials and tell them that it’s high time they did something about “healthcare.” Together, it will make a difference.