Thousands of hyphens perish as English marches on

1. Sep 21, 2007

Staff: Mentor

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070921/od_nm/britain_hyphen1_dc

2. Sep 21, 2007

neutrino

I sometimes have trouble telling whether a word needs a hyphen or not.

3. Sep 21, 2007

Staff: Mentor

I had dropped most hyphens some time ago.

4. Sep 21, 2007

Jimmy Snyder

One effect of the internet is that a much larger percentage of people write now than did in the past. If you are a language cop, you must regret that standards have suffered. On the other hand, a linguist probably feels like a kid locked in a candy store.

5. Sep 21, 2007

Jimmy Snyder

A word doesn't need a hyphen, but the a-word does.

6. Sep 21, 2007

mattmns

Good!

7. Sep 21, 2007

D H

Staff Emeritus
This is an ongoing process in the English language. No-thing new here. Have you tried reading an olde (early 19o0s) book chock full (formerly chock-full) of hyphens? All those hyphens in yester-day's books make olde English look all-most like a foreign language.

8. Sep 21, 2007

Staff: Mentor

It seems I have been noncompliant for some time. :uhh:

I think I have always used bumblebee, ice cream, but perhaps not pot belly, although I might have written it potbelly.

At least we are more consistent with the German usage of compound nouns, or is that compoundnouns.

And I tend to minimize use of definite and indefinite articles, which bothers some people.

Last edited: Sep 21, 2007
9. Sep 21, 2007

mgb_phys

Americans seem to use fewer hyphens than Brits.
Sometimes it is necessary though, as in the difference between
"more late night buses" and "more late night-buses"

10. Sep 21, 2007

matthyaouw

I've noticed this too. I didn't even know today used to be to-day 'til I started having to look through old news papers.

11. Sep 21, 2007

Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
Well, some of it is context, isn't it? I want some ice cream, but need an ice-cream scoop to serve it. The hyphen serves to keep track of which adjectives modify what nouns. Otherwise, if I said I need an ice cream scoop, I might just as well mean a cream scoop made of ice, would I not?

It's pretty irrelevant in every day conversation or informal writing, because when you talk about an ice cream scoop, everyone knows what you mean. It becomes MUCH more important in scientific writing, because you really might have a string of modifiers in your sentence where it is less clear which one modifies what, and improper use of grammar and hyphens makes your writing less precise and more prone to misinterpretation.

I think it's even less of a problem when the hyphen is dropped and it is turned into just one word rather than two, and wouldn't be much of a crybaby over that.

12. Sep 21, 2007

Mallignamius

Number is next. I've noticed more use of the apostrophe with plurals sans possession. For example:

But notice how the Tyrannosaurus Rex has a hyphen? It seems plausible that the dinosaurs are alive and well, surviving on punctuation. We may need to start monitoring other at risk marks, especially commas and accents.

13. Sep 21, 2007

edward

This makes me remember the ding that came just five spaces before the end of the line on my old Remington portable. At the ding it was time to either hyphenate or grab the white-out. Oops white out.

14. Sep 21, 2007

Mallignamius

Aha! A cover up!

....

cover-up

15. Sep 21, 2007

Moonbear

Staff Emeritus
:rofl: *sigh* I may be the last of that dying generation of people who used an actual typewriter.

16. Sep 21, 2007

edward

Hmm I wonder if there is a club of some kind for former typewriter users. There is for just about everything else.

Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
17. Sep 21, 2007

D H

Staff Emeritus
Is there one for former slide rule users? (Or is it sliderule?)

18. Sep 21, 2007

edward

:rofl: :rofl:

That was certainly back in the day. And how did we ever get by with out gas chromatography and graphing calculators. I remember when I bought my first 4 function calculator, it cost $395 now you can get one for$3.95.

19. Sep 22, 2007

G01

Hence, why we shouldn't try to simplify the language too much.

Last edited: Sep 22, 2007
20. Sep 22, 2007

Staff: Mentor

Importance of punctuation

Heh, that made me think of this

Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy--will you let me be yours? Gloria

Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is.
All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Yours, Gloria