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Anorak | Save Our Hyphen

Save Our Hyphen

by | 21st, August 2003

‘WE send out an S.O.S to English users everywhere. Grammar Vegans are endangering our language through their under-use of the hyphen.

‘I’d kill for a fag’

Just as animal rights enthusiasts are going to wipe out all mink, smoking rabbits and clever chimpanzees by taking away their only source of employment, Grammar Vegans are endangering the hyphen.

The Times says that, according to the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary, the hyphen is only used half as much as it was ten years ago.

But take care. Angus Stevenson, one of the editors, says that using hyphens in phrasal verbs – “this website was set-up by Vicky”; “now is the time to top-up your pension” – is not yet accepted in standard English.

But how different it was in years past when hyphens ran though pages with carefree abandon. Now the Sixties fish-shop and dog-bowl have been isolated or run together as in catflap and airfare.

Tim Austin, author of The Times Style and Usage Guide, echoes our thoughts when he says that it would be “great pity” if the hyphen were to disappear altogether.

So the advice is to get using it before it dies. Or else it’ll-be-so-much-the-worse-for-you.’



Posted: 21st, August 2003 | In: Broadsheets Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink