Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Death of Hyphen - - - -

- Caitlin Tadlock

It is time to say goodbye to your favorite hyphenated words. Say cheerio to ice-cream, bumble-bee (not the Transformer), pot-belly (not the beloved sub shop) and 15,997 other hyphenated words. With technology changing the way we communicate and the invention of lazy machines that take the communicate out of communication like Twitter, texting and devices that limit thoughts to 140 characters, people just want to get their point across quickly and without the hassle of looking down at a keyboard. Sorry hyphen, but we just don’t care about you anymore.

In the new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary it is estimated that 16,000 words have lost their hyphen because people are not bothering to include it. Go to the library and flip through the new dictionary and make note of the changes. Editor of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Angus Stevenson spoke about the hyphens losing their place in English. He commented, “People are not confident about using hyphens anymore, they’re not really sure what they are for…Printed writing is very much design-led these days in adverts and Web sites, and people feel that hyphens mess up the look of a nice bit of typography. The hyphen is seen as messy looking and old-fashioned.” In that statement Stevenson used two hyphens.

Not all hyphens have been eliminated, Stevenson also noted the importance of some hyphens, “There are places where a hyphen is necessary, because you can certainly start to get real ambiguity. Twenty-odd people came to the party, he said. Or was it twenty odd people?" I will make the announcement now that there is no reason for the hyphen to be taken off of a computer keyboard just yet. The public will still have to worry about remembering what a hyphen is when including it into a website URL, but we could just www.tinyurl. com that problem.

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