There’s A Fine Line Between Hyphenated Words

It was brought to my attention in class today that I love the hyphen. Here is an image if you are unfamiliar:

Besides looking like Hitler’s moustache, the hyphen is an amazing thing; it is used to join words or separate syllables of a single word. It has the ability to combine two ordinarily separate words into a new single word with a different meaning. If that’s not mind-blowing, I don’t know what is. Here’s a great example from Wikipedia:

a man-eating shark is a shark that eats humans
a man eating shark is a man who is eating shark meat

And that my friends is what I like to call  “punctuation porn.”

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4 thoughts on “There’s A Fine Line Between Hyphenated Words

  1. You’re not alone. I love hyphenating too, especially when I string more than a couple of words together.

    There is another horizontal line making its way to the top called the em dash. Parenthetical thought has never been more fun!

    • Oh, I love the em dash. I didn’t even know it was called the em dash!

      I also get really excited about the eight parts of speech: the verb, the noun, the pronoun, the adjective, the adverb, the preposition, the conjunction, and the interjection… even though I forget what they mean half the time!

  2. Melanie Ryan says:

    Hi Mr Chy. Long-time reader, first-time commenter.

    As you’ll see from my opening line, I too love the hyphen, and regularly celebrate the little dash in all its glory.

    In fact I have a shrine to hyphens, which sits next to my much larger shrine to Malcolm Turnbull, and gets some attention when I have the time for it.

    I don’t know why crusty old journalists and editors hate on the hyphen so much. What’s wrong with joining words together and giving them new meanings? They’re afraid, Mr Chy, that’s what it is. The old guard are afraid of our radical new ways, because they can’t keep up – they’re not trained as we are to expect the unexpected and act flexibly to meet new challenges. They’d prefer to stick to boring old commas or the even MORE boring space, because it doesn’t require them to think or innovate and it allows them to continue their hierarchical (and ultimately evil) gate-keeping practices.

    As you can see, the plight of the hyphen is indeed a metaphor for all that is wrong with the media business in Australia today.

    Yours sincerely,
    A too-concerned web reader

  3. ed. says:

    I love hyphens.

    But not half as much as I love shoehorning two words into eachother without one.

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