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Merging two verbs into one is a common structure:
繰り返す、書き直す、思い出す、乗り換える、etc.
sometimes the new verb mixes the meaning of the 2 verbs as well, sometimes not.

What about merging 2 verbs into a new verb on an ad hoc basis? This new verb does not exist in a dictionary. But, the mixed meaning of the new verb conveys the meaning I want. For example:

I received an email last week that I overlooked. Today I responded. I wanted to say "to reply late". The "mixed verb" I created is "返し遅れる"

先週のemailを送って頂きまして誠にありがとございました。大変、返し遅れて恐縮でございます。

Does 返し遅れる work here? Can you take the liberty to merge verbs and create verbs that don't exist in dictionaries?

example #2
走り逃げる
I'd think this means "to escape by running."

So, can you merge verbs like this "when it makes sense and the meaning is clear"?

  • "Can you take the liberty to merge verbs and create verbs that don't exist in dictionaries?" -- can you take the liberty to create words that don't exist in English dictionaries? Do "verbmerging," "compleverbing," or "combipredicate" make sense here? – macraf Feb 14 at 19:06
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先週のemailを送って頂きまして誠にありがとございました。大変、返し遅れて恐縮でございます。

I think this one is a bit awkward because of the formality. Between you and your friends, I don't think so many people make a fuss about 「返し遅れて」itself.

According to the 「NWJCコーパス」,

「返し遅れて」 has 305 hits.

I think the verb is used in the blogs, social networking services, etc. since it is used like「"コメント"返し遅れて」& ごめん, すみません, 申し訳ございません or something like that. So, it is bit casual and「ご返事が遅れ」or 「返信が遅くなり」is more appropriate to your sentence.

(As a side note: I think 大変 should be put just before「恐縮」if you want to emphasize apology).

「走り逃げる」 has only 72 hits. So, it is still casual and has not widely been used so far.

「走って逃げる」 has 2270 hits and it should be more natural and widely used.

The language has been changing all the time and I am not sure about the future though, the statistics shows some combination of verbs does not work really well at the moment.

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