Pet Peave: Hyphens

OK, this has nothing to do with technology or VoIP or anything directly related to Red Road Telecom.  Just getting it out of my system.  No, not that system!

I have noticed a trend over the past few years: improper hyphenation seems to be everywhere.  I am quite certain that this post will have no effect on this – I’m just letting off steam.

The common factor in these errors: confusing an adjective with a noun.  Let me explain.

There’s a category of hyphenated phrases in which the purpose of the hyphen is to join together two words in order to form an adjectival phrase out of them, and secondarily to eliminate possible confusion as to which word goes with which in the surrounding sentence.

For example:  “The large-scale deployment of this solution now appears to be possible”.   The phrase “large-scale” is an adjective modifying the noun “deployment”.  Without the hyphen it might be read as something called a “scale deployment”, a large one, now appears possible.

On the other hand:  “It now appears to be possible to deploy this solution at a large-scale”.

At a large-scale what?  “large-scale” is still an adjective.   The correct sentence would be:

“It now appears to be possible to deploy this solution at a large scale”.

Another example – I recently read a wonderful story about a woman who joyfully accepted a surprise proposal from her honey.  Unfortunately, she had not done her nails that day but she really wanted to post some pics of the two of them kissing with the ring on her hand in the foreground, and she really wanted her nails to look good.  Little sister to the rescue!  Her sister did an amazing job of holding up her left hand with the ring in front of the kissing couple, while snapping a pic with her right hand.  Amazing!  It really looks like the fiancee’s hand!

OK, so what on Earth is my point?  The article ends with “They really appreciated her quick-thinking”.

I suppose, like pink Hondas, now that I’ve drawn your attention to this you’ll start seeing them everywhere.  On the other hand, realistically, I doubt there are very many people who’ve actually read this far.

Mahalo to you for your long-suffering!

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