A New York Times Op-Ed page headlined a Paul Krugman piece "The Banks Are Not Alright." Far be it from me to challenge the gist of his premise; Krugman, after all, is a Nobel Prize winner in economics, and I am merely the runner-up of the 1950 National Spelling Bee. Anyway, as far as I can tell, he's right about the banks, all right--but not about "alright." It ought to be two words. The Oxford English Dictionary would have us believe that "alright" was first used as long ago as 1175 (or thereabouts) in the Lambeth Homilies, but who paid any attention to them even back then? It's true that "already" and "almighty" have now taken up permanent residence in the most gentrified lexicographical neighborhoods, but if we let "alright" slip in as well, it won't be long before "alalong," "alornothing," "altold," "alnight," and maybe even "alsaintsday" will join them. The thought of that worries me alot.
The proper usage can be observed in the words of the Bard of Buffalo Bayou:
Orville and Wilbur went drinking all night,
With an old friend by the name of Allbright.
Though their imbibing had made them all tight,
Orville and Wilbur next day were all Wright.