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Gotta dash?

September 24, 2007
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Apparently, many of us won’t.  The Oxford English Dictionary has eliminated 16,000 hyphens from the new version of the Short OED (which is 2 volumes, killing the idea of truth in advertising).  According to this article, in the SOED, Bumble-bee is now bumblebee, ice-cream is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly. They blame it on the Internet age, the need for speed, and above all, lack of confidence in people about how to use the hyphen in the first place. This reminds me of the spirited discussions I would have with copywriters and editorial assistants about “online”. Even back in the day, I saw it as one word, and pushed to make our style guide free of “on-line” and, even worse, “on line”. I do see problems with longer words that don’t go together being squished into one – Pidgeonhole is just crying out for a hyphen, if you ask me.

From my experience with copy editors and production assistants, I’m certain that there will be much discussion and debate about this. Something to keep in mind if you’re an author waiting for a word back from someone at a publishing house.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Greta Jansen permalink
    July 25, 2010 8:23 pm

    At last, validation that I’m not the only one who frets about such details!

    I managed only to get the tail end (tail-end?) of the story on CBC and never found the list. Do you know where I can get the complete list? I edit articles so need to get things right but am a perfectionist and general nit-picker/nit picker/nitpicker anyway. Am I the only one who goes around correcting with a Sharpie all misspelled notices on lampposts? People have become so sloppy with language that it’s often hard to know what they are trying to say. Heaven forbid that expression will be reduced to texts and tweets! Apparently they don’t teach any grammar in schools now. It inhibits the creative genuis or somesuch rubbish. A teacher in Winnipeg was even fired for teaching it, and that was 20 years ago.

    Complete list of 16,000 words, anyone?

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