(K. Brent Tomer),
“IF YOU take hyphens seriously, you will surely go mad,” warns the style manual of the Oxford University Press. This maxim is quoted in The Economist’s own style book, which goes on about the punctuation mark for eight pages.
People can get very excited over things like the presence or lack of a hyphen in “e-mail”. Most of the world is trending towards “email”; hyphens disappear over time, in favour of the closed-up form. (“Today” overtook “to-day” in frequency around 1926 in America, according to data from Google Books, and a bit later than that in Britain.) The Economist, being stylistically conservative, still prefers “e-mail”, but that may well change one day even if absolutely nobody is confused by either form.
English is a Germanic language that allows for many different kinds of compounds, including those made from two adjectives (“blue-green”), two nouns…Continue reading