galaxyrocker wrote:Orthography mistakes don't bother me at all; writing != language, and some people learn the rules better than others, but it doesn't really hinder communication.
writing != language -- I agree. (For the benefit of people who don't program computers, "!=" is used in many languages to denote "not equal to")
However, that's why it's arguably OK to talk about "correct" in writing conventions, even when you're a descriptivist in terms of grammar, vocabulary etc. Writing conventions make things easier to read, and the more people diverge from the accepted conventions, the hard reading becomes. Given that a written text is only written once, but typically read multiple times by different people, any effort the writer puts into writing clearly leads to higher efficiency overall.
Of course, this isn't the individual's fault -- it's down to the education system... and now I'm back on my favourite hobby-horse. Prescriptive grammar teaching fails to draw pupils' attention to the language they already know, instead telling them that it's wrong and trying to get them to speak the artificial "correct" form. Teachers who don't want to be prescriptive don't teach grammar. So there's no-one teaching language awareness, so people don't have the subconscious understanding of things like stress and timing that leads to the correct rendering of compound nouns. This, in English, is actually leading to a breakdown in the systematicity of compounding. We've got three conventions -- space, hyphen and no hyphen -- which traditionally relate to the pronunciation and the "closeness" of the compound. Historically, new compounds would have a clear double pronunciation, and as it became more common it would get closer, and one of the elements would start to lose emphasis and the hyphen would be introduced into writing. Finally, the compound would become so common that it would become one word and written as such.
Take for example ice-cream. Or should I say "ice cream", as that seems to be the most common spelling. Yet the way most people in the UK say it would be better rendered as "ice-cream", and the US English you hear on TV pronounces it as "icecream". So a useful part of the written convention that used to make comprehension easier is dying out because people aren't aware of it. Which is a shame, really.