Monday 15 October 2007


This passed me by in September, but there's been another little flurry of reports: the sixth edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has 16,000 less hyphens than the previous edition. (Never to fear though, more words have been added, including psychobilly, puh-leeze and over-emote.)

Several experts consulted by the media suggest that hyphens are musty, fusty, and largely unnecessary, as most readers can get by without them. They also suggest that fast typing of emails is contributing to the decimation of hyphens. The thing I find funny? Newspaper style retains what I'd say was a outmoded hyphen in 'e-mail'.

The most elegant coverage of the 16,000 is to be found in this article, by Charles McGrath in The New York Times. Check it out.

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