Monday, September 24, 2007

Thousands of hyphens perish as English marches on

About 16,000 words have succumbed to pressures of the internet age and lost their hyphens in a new edition of the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary.
Bumble-bee is now bumblebee, ice-cream is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly.
And if you've got a problem, don't be such a crybaby (formerly cry-baby).

The hyphen has been squeezed as informal ways of communicating, honed in text messages and emails, spread on websites and seep into newspapers and books.
"People are not confident about using hyphens anymore, they're not really sure what they are for," said Angus Stevenson, editor of the Shorter OED, the sixth edition of which was published this week.
Another factor in the hyphen's demise is designers' distaste for its ungainly horizontal bulk between words.
"Printed writing is very much design-led these days in adverts and websites, and people feel that hyphens mess up the look of a nice bit of typography," he said. "The hyphen is seen as messy looking and old-fashioned."

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