Hyphens: A Rant (So To Speak)
Although Jen Doll calls her piece a “rant,” it really isn’t one. It’s rare that a mass-market publication like The Atlantic prints a thoughtful article that effectively deals with the niceties and subtleties of punctuation, but this one on the hyphen is just that. Judging from my students’ essays, the hyphen, along with its cousin the dash, is probably the most misused punctuation mark, and Ms Doll’s article addresses the proper usage with understated wit and charm. If only more articles about pet peeves were like this one.
Plus, I learned something from this article. I had no idea that that an en dash was the proper mark to use in the adjective pre–Civil War. It seems, at least according to Chicago, that an en dash is used instead of hyphen when linking an open compound (i. e., Civil War) with another adjective or prefix.
[Tip o’ the Hat to Andrew Sullivan]
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton