Friday, October 12, 2007

Hyphen Hiatus


You get the idea.

A couple of days ago, our esteemed colleague Bill Walsh was fuming about the decision of Copy Editor magazine to change its name to Copyediting. As always, Bill has some choice things to say.

Now there's this: The new edition of The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary did away with about 16,000 hyphens.

Russell Smith says:
There are many reasons for this, one of them being that the rules of hyphenation were just silly. The other is, of course, the slow elimination of punctuation that the digital age is necessitating. Electronic communication tends to be more streamlined: We use punctuation less, generally, in e-mails and text messages, and in advertising slogans.

Furthermore, as the editor of the dictionary admitted to a Reuters reporter, the world of letters is increasingly ruled by designers. Type looks so much prettier, so much slicker, when it is not prickly with hyphens. It's easier to lay out words in narrow columns, too, when they are easily separable.

Some of us are not coöperating. Or co:operating. (Remember THAT one?)

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