To hyphenate or not to hyphenate

 

Today we’re discussing words with prefixes and whether we should hyphenate them. In general, English is moving away from hyphenation (it’s coworker, not co-worker, for instance), but there are some situations in which using the hyphen is the better course of action.

For this, I turned to the dog-eared, super-highlighted section 7.85 of my copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, which is my go-to resource for style questions. (Word style, not fashion style—I can handle the latter part on my own. Hellooo, silver combat boots!)

Here’s what the book says about prefixes.
A hyphen should appear:
1)   Before a capitalized word or a numeral, such as sub-Saharan, pre-1950
2)   To separate two Is, two As, or two other same vowels, such as anti-intellectual, extra-alkaline
3)   To separate other combinations of letters or syllables that might cause misreading, such as pro-life

(There are a few more rules; however, these are the ones you’ll most often experience, so let’s keep our focus here. And, as always, there are exceptions to the rules above, but we’re discussing what you should generally do.)

So, according to rule 1, it would be prewar, but pre-WWII (because of the capitalization).

According to rule 2, it would be extrasmart, but extra-academic (because of having the two side-by-side letter As).

Rule 3 is where it gets tricky to me. It basically says, if you think not hyphenating a word may cause people to misread it, then use a hyphen. Well, that’s open to interpretation of what one thinks may lead to a misread. The rule, according to The Chicago Manual of Style is: when in doubt, check Merriam-Webster. This means, if a word is not hyphenated in that dictionary, don’t hyphenate it.

In the last book I edited, I had a conundrum with words starting with rein (so the prefix re- and a word that started with the letters I and N.) For example, this morning I looked up the word reinvest, as in “to invest again.” To me, I see this word as two words smushed together: rein and vest. It looks (to me) like a noun that means “a vest you wear with your reins.” Like: “I wore my reinvest so I didn’t fall off my horse.” But, of course, that’s not its meaning. Yet, the lords at Merriam-Webster think people won’t have a problem misreading that word, so it shouldn’t get a hyphen.

I might lose my grammar police badge for this, but in the last book I edited, I used my own judgment (in some cases) regarding hyphenation. I encourage you to do this, too. If you think readers will be confused if you don’t use a hyphen, then use a hyphen. (But don’t tell anyone I told you that.)

Quiz
Decide if each word should be hyphenated. Keep in mind rules 1 and 2 mentioned above. (We’re not even going to get into rule 3 here because, as I mentioned, it’s too open to interpretation.)

1)   hyper active
2)   neo natal
3)   post 1984
4)   hyper sonic
5)   inner Chicago
6)   anti inflammatory
7)   non violent
8)   over zealous
9)   mega ambient
10)  co author

Answers: 1) hyperactive 2) neonatal 3) post-1984 4) hypersonic 5) inner-Chicago 6) anti-inflammatory 7) nonviolent 8) overzealous 9) mega-ambient 10) coauthor

Here! Hear!

people toasting wine glasses

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

When you raise your glass after an impressive speech, do you say “Here, here!” or “Hear, hear!”?

The correct phrase is: Hear, hear! That is, unless someone is asking, “Who wants more wine?” Then you can say, “Here, here!” and pound your fists on the table.

“Hear, hear!” simply means “hear him” or “hear her” and is a sign of approval of the previous speaker.

Imbibing around the world
To add some cultural flair the next time you toast, try doing it in another language. Below is a sampling of toasts across the globe.

Danish: Skål!

Finnish: Kippis!

French: Santé

German: Prost!

Icelandic: Skál!

Italian: Salute!

Malay: Sihat selalu!

Polish: Na zdrowie!

Romanian: Noroc!

Spanish: ¡Salud!

Tagalog: Mabuhay!

Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.

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Using brand names

Kleenex. Band-Aid. ChapStick. What do these words have in common? They are all trademarked. If you bought a store brand box of thingies to blow your nose into, you’re actually using facial tissues, not Kleenex. Likewise, if you rub something on your lips that doesn’t come in a tube labeled ChapStick, you’re using plain old lip balm.

JetSki, Google, Crock-Pot, Post-it—the list goes on.

What does this mean for your writing? Generally, it is okay to reference brand names in writing. The main point to remember is brand names need to be treated like other proper nouns. This means brand names should be capitalized. (Generic names do not require capitalization.)

Example: I had such a bad cold last week that I sneezed my way through three boxes of Kleenex.

However, be mindful of using brand names correctly. For instance, if you are writing a blog post about your nasty cold, you shouldn’t post a photo of you holding a box of facial tissues labeled “Joe Shmoe’s brand of facial tissues” and then reference the brand name Kleenex in a caption. If your post rockets in popularity, it’s possible the trademark police could come after you because brand names should be used to reference that particular brand only.

Here is a list of trademarks often thought to be generic (should be capitalized):
Band-Aid
Bubble Wrap
ChapStick
Crock-Pot
Frisbee
Google
Hacky Sack
Jacuzzi
Jeep
Kleenex
Kool-Aid
Memory Stick
Onesies
Popsicle
Post-it
Q-tip
Rollerblade
Scotch Tape
Sharpie
Styrofoam
Tupperware
Wite-Out

Want to learn more?
Mental Floss has a funny and informative blog post about trademarks at risk of becoming generic. Check it out.

AP vs. Chicago

The Onion posted a funny (well, funny to me) article yesterday about copy editing:

4 Copy Editors Killed In Ongoing AP Style, Chicago Manual Gang Violence

NEWS IN BRIEF • News Media • News • ISSUE 49•01 • Jan 7, 2013
  • NEW YORK—Law enforcement officials confirmed Friday that four more copy editors were killed this week amid ongoing violence between two rival gangs divided by their loyalties to the The Associated Press Stylebook and The Chicago Manual Of Style. “At this time we have reason to believe the killings were gang-related and carried out by adherents of both the AP and Chicago styles, part of a vicious, bloody feud to establish control over the grammar and usage guidelines governing American English,” said FBI spokesman Paul Holstein, showing reporters graffiti tags in which the word “anti-social” had been corrected to read “antisocial.” “The deadly territory dispute between these two organizations, as well as the notorious MLA Handbookgang, has claimed the lives of more than 63 publishing professionals this year alone.” Officials also stated that an innocent 35-year-old passerby who found himself caught up in a long-winded dispute over use of the serial, or Oxford, comma had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

This is obvious hyperbole about a real note of contention among punctuation slingers.

There are notable differences between these two styles. For starters, Associated Press style is aimed at newspapers. It’s founded on the idea that people must write briefly so as much information as possible can fit onto pages. Thus, only numbers one through ten are written out (numerals are used for higher numbers), state names use the postal code, and the Oxford (or serial) comma is nowhere to be found.

Chicago is focused on other publications, such as books. Space limits are not a focus, so numbers through one hundred are spelled out, state names are spelled out, and my beloved Oxford comma retains its prideful position.

Are you interested in learning more about the differences between these two styles? Here’s a link to AP vs. Chicago, a blog about the subject.

Peel vs. peal

peel (verb): to strip off an outer layer of
Example: Lawrence peeled the skin off of his apple.

peel (noun): the skin or rind of a fruit
Example: Becky threw her potato peels in the trash.

peal (noun): the loud ringing of bells; a loud sound or succession of sounds
Examples:
Gina heard the peal of the church bells from across town.
Ryan let out peals of laughter at his buddy’s lunch room antics.

Etymology
Peel comes from the Latin word pilare, which means to remove the hair from. It came into English in the 13th century.

Peal is short for appeal, which in Middle English meant a summons to church service. It came into the English language in the 14th century.

Quiz:
Fill in the blanks with either peel or peal. The answers are below.

1. Grace slipped on a banana _______ and broke her nose.
2. Stan grew excited when he heard the _______ of the day’s last school bell.
3. Grandma _______ed eight pears for the pie.
4. ____s of loud sobs escaped from Sammy when he learned a dragon ate his cat.
5. Sammy’s mean sister told him the dragon _______ed the skin off of his cat before he ate her.

Answers:
1. peel (noun) 2. peal 3. peel (verb) 4. peal 5. peel (verb)