Monday, March 30, 2015

1465 Too Many Hyphens

Demand for hyphens is exceeding supply.  It’s likely to cause a hyphen bubble, driving prices out of the range of the people who most need them.  So, as a public service, Wessays™ has released part of its long- accumulated surplus.  Be our guest and help yourself.


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And there are more where these came from. We can’t allow control of this punctuation mark to fall into the hands of speculators.


Some people are going so far as to hide them in fear their keyboards will be hijacked.  They’re whiting or graying them out in written work or storing them in safes, offshore accounts or in secret crypts and grottos.


Others are sneaking in dashes.  We know who you are. We know where you live.  We know the real thing from a shabby underused substitute.


This is not just a case of simple supply and demand. This is a concerted effort to corner a market.  Soon we’ll be hearing radio ads luring us into buying both actual hyphens and hyphen-related mutual funds.  Someone will set up a punctuation futures exchange and the financial press will dutifully report its ups and downs each hour.

So, who is using them all up?


First, the British. They started centuries ago when “well born” families became “well-born” and petitioned the king for the right. That’s still going on.  Did you know that Queen Elizabeth’s husband’s official name is Philip Mountbatten-Windsor?


The women’s movement has contributed to hyphenated hyperactivity.  Chis Evert-Lloyd.  Else von Freytag-Loringhoven and every third woman at National Public Radio.


Not to be out-done, there are plenty of men who also hyphenate: Sheik Omar Abdel-Raman.  Karim Abdul-Jabbar. Maddox Jolie-Pitt. Hugh Trevor-Roper.


But it’s not just names.  It’s any word you want to prefix with something that normally isn’t prefixed.  Pre-order. Post-op.  And locations: Alsace-Lorraine.  Bergen-Belsen and the ever-popular Schleswig-Holstein.


Then there are the endless hyphenated ethnicities and nationalities.  African-American, Jewish-American, German, Italian, Irish, Portuguese, etc., etc. These hyphens should not be horizontal, they should be vertical. They’re not links, they are walls.

Shrapnel:  


--Question at the doctor’s office:  “How long have you been abusing tobacco?”  Wrong question.  It should be “how long has tobacco been abusing you?”


--Recommended new book... “Duck” by John Winslow Gibson, subtitled “the History of Something that Didn’t Happen.” It’s the story of a fictional candidate for President who wants to (shudder) put power back in the hands of ordinary Americans, taking it from the hands of our corporate and government masters.  Good read and short.  Available at Amazon and B&N.


--If you search for it, use the author’s full name and put “Duck” in quotes. Otherwise you’ll get a lot of stuff about the John Gibson who is a goalie for the NHL hockey team. Disclaimer: JWG and I have been friends for about a thousand years.


I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com
© WJR 2015

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