> Why isn't this just a proximity search?
Proximity solves part of the problem we've been discussing: If you want to
search for "search term" and you don't want to retrieve "research termpaper"
then neither a string nor word search will work so proximity helps.
But if you search on "search" and you want to retrieve "amalgamated search"
but not "amalgamated research" then you'd want to mask words (I don't see
that proximity helps here).
Also, this would solve the first problem (i.e. obviate the need to construct
a proximity search).