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#18132 - 02/02/01 12:04 PM hyphenated modifiers from h%@$
garynamy Offline
stranger

Registered: 01/29/01
Posts: 20
Loc: Maryland
Has anyone noticed a trend toward massive, cumbersome multi-word modifiers in the written word? I'm thinking of constructions like:

"We can't continue this I-have-to-spend-my-paycheck-as-soon-as-I-get-it mentality." (I made this one up, but you get the idea.)

Sometimes I find it to be a clever way to communicate; other times I lose track of the sentence. (What was the subject again?)

Any wisdom out there? Egregious examples? gs


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#18133 - 02/02/01 12:26 PM Re: hyphenated modifiers from h%@$
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
Egregious examples?

Try a board Search based on 'emoticon' !


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#18134 - 02/02/01 12:42 PM Re: hyphenated modifiers from h%@$
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
[glancing-askance-at-maverick-since-the-reference-wasn't-lost-on-me emoticon]


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#18135 - 02/02/01 12:45 PM Re: hyphenated modifiers from h%@$
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
glancing-askance-at-maverick

[luv-yah-to-bits-emoticon]!


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#18136 - 02/04/01 05:17 AM Re: hyphenated modifiers from h%@$
paulb Offline
addict

Registered: 03/17/00
Posts: 460
Loc: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Hi garynamy: I've just finished reading Oscar Hijuelos's "The Mambo Kings play songs of love" in which one whole chapter (approximately a page and a half) is composed of hyphenated words. Here's a brief example:

" then coconuts-falling-out-of-the-trees-and-thumping-against-the-ground drums, then lion-skin drums, then the-whacking-of-the-hand-against-a-wall drums, the-beating-of-a-pillow drums, heavy-stones-against-a-wall drums, then the-thickest-forest-tree-trunks-pounding drums, and then the-mountain-rumble drums, then the-little-birds-learning-to-fly drums and the big-birds-alighting-on-a-rooftop-and-fanning-their-immense-wings drums, then a-boat-down-the-river-with-its-oars-dropping-heavily-into-the-water drums "


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#18137 - 02/04/01 08:17 AM Re: hyphenated modifiers from h%@$
stales Offline
old hand

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 866
Loc: Perth, Western Australia
When writing in scientific english (as used in reports, technical papers and theses) ALL hyphens are treated as superfluous and deleted (well, at least the publications for which I prepared papers). As I recall however, the only exception is when listing an assemblage of mineral or chemical constituents eg ".....the Broken Hill lead-zinc-copper-silver deposit".

To be frank, hyphen deletion is not a bad way to go!! Try it in your next paper or report at work and you'll see that their removal often leads to more correct use of the language. Look at the hyphens in something you've written previously. Could you replace them with (a) a better word, (b) a full stop (ie "period"), (c) a comma or (d) could they simply be deleted with no effect on the sentence? (BTW MS Word just LURVS hyphens. I spend a lot of time NOT accepting those proffered by the spell checker!!)

The rules of scientific writing also rank adverbs as slovenly, incorrect and unnecessary! For instance, "...the process is usually accepted..." carries scientific oomph when "usually" is deleted. Guess that the rule forces one to write in the assertive rather than the passive. When I was working in the scientific world, the spell checker was always sent on a " *ly" search and destroy mission. The only one I used to let through was "only"!!

Since email has been around, I've taken up hyphen usage - it works for me as the written version of an afterthought or if I wish to make an aside in the middle of a sentence.

stales


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#18138 - 02/04/01 05:21 PM Re: hyphenated modifiers from h%@$
Marty Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 09/20/00
Posts: 347
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
"I don't like your I-can-use-anything-as-an-adjective attitude."

(attributed to Larry Wall)


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#18139 - 02/05/01 09:34 PM Re: hyphenated modifiers from h%@$
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
Without using a hyphen how would you differentiate between "Applicants must submit six-monthly reports" and "Applicants must submit six monthly reports"?

Bingley
_________________________
Bingley

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#18140 - 02/05/01 11:45 PM Re: hyphenated modifiers from h%@$
stales Offline
old hand

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 866
Loc: Perth, Western Australia
Howsabout "Applicants must submit a report every six months."

stales


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#18141 - 02/06/01 12:00 AM Re: hyphenated modifiers from h%@$
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
Well, you could, but why should you? I would agree that the hyphen can be overused, but surely the way round that is to cut them down to where they are essential to preserve a difference in meaning rather than abolish them altogether?

Another example: Because of the recent floods, some of the paintings in the gallery's collection need to be re-stored/restored.

Bingley
_________________________
Bingley

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