Friday, October 19, 2007

Going the Way of the Dodo: Hyphens

If you have time, throw a memorial service for the hyphen, 'cause it's rapidly disappearing from our dictionaries.

Overall, I enjoy the dash more than I enjoy the hyphen. (Double the pleasure! There's just something that says "Pay attention to me - I mean it!") But I've had some good times with the hyphen as well.

I guess I still can enjoy it - only I'm now limited to well-being, pro-ball and anti-war. Sadly, we can no longer enjoy hyphen-ness on bumble-bee, ice-cream and cry-baby, which are now bumblebee, ice cream and crybaby. (Will John Waters have to change the name of his Johnny Depp movie?!?)

It's Been a Bitch of a Week for Punctuation

Yesterday, I agonized over semi-colons vs. commas. I prefer the comma, using semi-colons only to separate short, punchy sentences or series of long, extravagant phrases. My commas always get changed to semi-colons so that's what I've been stuck with. One of my colleagues said, "When I see a semi-colon, it makes me jump up in my seat, kind of like a jerk." Her vote was for commas.

My other drama has been with punctuation inside quotation marks. I feel that 9 times out of 10, punctuation belongs tucked snugly inside the quotation mark, not dangling outside in a punctuation free-for-all. (Or is that freeforall or free for all?)

I'm always directed to put them on the outside and every time I do it, my heart breaks a little. I just found a quote from a writing blog that completely summed up my feelings on punctuation and quotation marks.

"I hate it the way they leave punctuation outside quotation marks. Periods and commas look so cold and lonely out there. I think they deserve to be brought inside, comforted and embraced."

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