Steering into confusion

I used to work with reporters who would write that something was thisclose to happening, and then howl that their creativity was being stifled if anyone suggested inserting a space between this and close.

Yes, it just looked like a typo.

The spelling in this ad, I’m afraid, is no typo.

Nor is it an attempt to verb a noun, as in I’ll buy your junk and pickup it back to my place at 70 miles an hour.

Rather, it’s a morsel from the gruel school of usage: Slap the words on a page and, however wretched they look, feed them to the masses.

No dictionaries needed. No one will notice the difference. Grammar is so low-tech anyway.

What the ad meant to say, of course, is Will Pick Up. After all, pick up is a verb; pickup is a noun or an adjective.

Even those who know the difference come up with headlines like the one below. That one is grammatically correct but still comical. I have to figure that the Journal is too busy fingering people to worry about whether Rupert Murdoch is seeing pickups in his TVs or in his advertising.

Maybe we all just need some space.

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