In January, I made a light-hearted blog post about the spelling of homeschooling:Â Notice to the world.Â This weekend, the topic came up again on the email list,Â HEM-Networking, and a list-member asked what the big deal was.Â What does it matter how the concept is spelled?
From a publishing viewpoint, it makes a difference because consistency in spellingÂ is easier on the reader.Â I’ve read articles (usually from the general press) that have included all three spellings in one article:Â homeschool, home-school, and home school.Â Apparently these publications don’t have style book entries for homeschooling, and it makes for choppy reading.Â Homeschooling publications are usually consistent in spelling the concept one way.
In English, the development of a concept from two words into a compound word also designates acceptance of the concept, something probably left over from our Germanic linguistic heritage.Â In German, much to the dismay ofÂ new students of the language, compound word development is how new words are made,Â and concepts are often strung together.Â
- RheindampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitÃ¤nsstellvertreter (Rhein-dampf/schiff/fahrts-gesell/schafts-kapitÃ¤ns-stell/vertreter — “Rhine steamship-company vice-captain”)Â [yes, this is an extreme example]
English speakers can use this GermanÂ tendency, and our own language’s connection to German,Â for a bit of humor: Â Super long German nouns.Â
New concepts in English may start out being described by two words, but as use makes the concept more familiar, the words often lose the space, or the hyphen, and become a single (concept) word.Â Â ’Electronic mail,’ changedÂ to ‘e-mail,’ and sometimes toÂ ’email.’Â ‘Website’ is doing the same thing.
- Writing Tip: Compound Words:Â Compound words generally develop over time through use. As people continue to use two or more previously unrelated words together, the combination gains acceptance. After a while, words that began as two separate words may become hyphenated or joined into one word.
Within the homeschooling community, there is also the ‘factionalism’Â as to whether one does ‘school at home’ (home school), or is more relaxed in the process (homeschool).Â Most of us know that the ‘relaxation’ makes it all the way to unschooling, and even to radical unschooling.Â Human activities often have these divisions, and they may be used to identify otherÂ ’birds of a feather.’
There are also those people who find any of the spelling combinations of ‘homeschool’ to be unsatisfactory because ‘school’ doesn’t describe the process, andÂ theÂ inclusion of ‘school’Â linguistically allies this family activity with rules and laws concerning organized schooling, rather as if eating lunch at home were called ‘non-cafeteria noon meal.’Â Linking the meal linguistically to a cafeteria signals that cafeteria-eating is the norm, and thatÂ eating somewhere else is not.Â Concerning lunch, we may be farther down this roadÂ than we thought, as ‘home-cooked meal’Â and ‘fast food’ are termsÂ often used to describe lunches, but we don’t often say “I had a restaurant-cooked lunch,” and if we say we ‘had lunch’ we are often asked, “Where did you go?”
In the word,Â ’homeschooling,’ ‘school’ is taken as the root, and the ‘home’ portion is the modifier.Â Before public schools became the the-way-things-are-supposed-to-be, there was no special term for the learning children did at home; children were just being raised, and being educated along with the raising was expected.Â The learning was often related to one’s age, sex and class, but some form of age/sex/class-appropriateÂ ’learning’ was assumed.
Other linguistic quantifications of theÂ return to home as the primary placeÂ of learning are home education, home learning, and recently, home scholar.Â There are probably others I’ve missed.Â ‘Home’ is still somewhat anomalous when connected with ‘learning,’ as if ‘home’ is some kind of stasis chamber to maintainÂ the currentÂ level of educationÂ until the nextÂ bout of schooling.Â Â The increased public awareness of home as a place of learning and growth through the word ‘homeschooling’ may be changing that assumption.
There’s a lot bundled intoÂ homeschooling’s nomenclature.