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hyphenation question

English translation: to represent the use of a common element in a list of compounds, such as four-, six-, and eight-...

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17:29 Mar 29, 2004
English to English translations [PRO]
General / Conversation / Greetings / Letters / (a general question)
English term or phrase: hyphenation question
There is a question which I have always been meaning to ask regarding hyphens. For example, in German you would say "land- oder firmenspezifisch" (country or company-specific), keeping the hyphen after "land" to imply that the "spezifisch" applies to it as well.

However, in English, I feel that constructions such as "country- or company-specific", although often more accurate, look very unnatural (very German, even). Having said that, I have often seen it used in excellent translations.

My question is: is it correct to use a hyphen after the first word, is it correct to leave it out, or is it purely a question of taste?

I'd be very interested to hear other views on this.

Many thanks


Ian
xxxIanW
Local time: 11:02
English translation:to represent the use of a common element in a list of compounds, such as four-, six-, and eight-...
Explanation:
I find the Ask Oxford site very useful for these types of questions.

http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutspelling/hyp...
About hyphens it says:
When is it correct to use a hyphen?


Hyphenation in English is highly variable, and in many contexts, it really doesn't matter. The Fowler brothers, first editors of the Concise Oxford Dictionary, wrote in their preface to the 1911 edition:

We have also to admit that after trying hard at an early stage to arrive at some principle that should teach us when to separate, when to hyphen, and when to unite the parts of compound words, we had to abandon the attempt as hopeless, and welter in the prevailing chaos.
The places where it does matter are summarized in The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (1996), the most important being

to make clear the unifying of the sense in compound expressions such as punch-drunk, cost-benefit analysis, or weight-carrying, or compounds in attributive use (that is, in front of the noun), as in an up-to-date list or the well-known performer;
to join a prefix to a proper name (e.g. anti-Darwinian);
to avoid misunderstanding by distinguishing phrases such as twenty-odd people and twenty odd people, or a third-world conflict and a third world conflict;
to clarify the use of a prefix, as in recovering from an illness and re-covering an umbrella;
to clarify compounds with similar adjacent sounds, such as sword-dance, co-opt, tool-like.
to represent the use of a common element in a list of compounds, such as four-, six-, and eight-legged animals.
in dividing a word across a line-break. Guidance on word division is given in reference books such as the Oxford Colour Spelling Dictionary (1996).

So, it seems that you do have to use the hyphen!

This is confirmed for the USA too:
http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/compounds.htm
Suspended Compounds*
With a series of nearly identical compounds, we sometimes delay the final term of the final term until the last instance, allowing the hyphen to act as a kind of place holder, as in

The third- and fourth-grade teachers met with the parents.
Both full- and part-time employees will get raises this year.
We don't see many 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children around here.

And:
Also, when we combine compound nouns, we would use a hyphen with the first, but not the last: when under- and overdeveloped nations get together. . . .

Hope this helps!
Selected response from:

Marijke Singer
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:02
Grading comment
Thanks to everyone for their input, but the points go to Marijke for the excellent references
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
4 +6hyphenation questionntext
5 +1to represent the use of a common element in a list of compounds, such as four-, six-, and eight-...
Marijke Singer
3 +2composite adjectivesRHELLER
3 +2Personally, ....
jccantrell
4country or company specific
Mario Marcolin


  

Answers


5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
composite adjectives


Explanation:
Dear Ian,

I often use them and the hyphen certainly helps clarity in a technical paper. I don't read German so I cannot comment.

A standard which is only used in India is a country-specific standard

RHELLER
United States
Local time: 03:02
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 92

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  NancyLynn
6 mins

agree  chopra_2002
14 mins
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

5 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +6
hyphenation question


Explanation:
If you would use a hyphen anyway, then it is correct to do so in constructions you mentioned above.

E.g. you would probably write "country-specific" and "company-specific." Therefore, "country- or company-specific" is correct.

However, you would write "kitchen table" and "dining room table." Hence: "kitchen and dining room tables."

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 11 mins (2004-03-29 17:40:34 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

When two or more compound modifiers have a common base, this base is sometimes omitted in all except the last modifier, but the hyphens are retained.

Long- and short-term memory
2-, 3-, and 10-min trials

http://www.apastyle.org/tipweek111201.html

ntext
United States
Local time: 04:02
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in category: 36

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  NancyLynn
6 mins

agree  David Knowles: This is a good explanation, but I agree it can look fussy.
22 mins

agree  mbc
29 mins

agree  Tony M: This is exactly the way I view it, and I find it usually works OK in practice, as long as it adds to rather than impairs clarity and avoids ambiguity
5 hrs

agree  Kim Metzger: Use the "suspensive hyphen" rather than repeat the second part of the modifier in cases like this: On successive days there were three-, five- and nine-inch snowfalls. NY Times Manual of Style and Usage
8 hrs

agree  Vicky Papaprodromou
1 day15 hrs
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32 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
to represent the use of a common element in a list of compounds, such as four-, six-, and eight-...


Explanation:
I find the Ask Oxford site very useful for these types of questions.

http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutspelling/hyp...
About hyphens it says:
When is it correct to use a hyphen?


Hyphenation in English is highly variable, and in many contexts, it really doesn't matter. The Fowler brothers, first editors of the Concise Oxford Dictionary, wrote in their preface to the 1911 edition:

We have also to admit that after trying hard at an early stage to arrive at some principle that should teach us when to separate, when to hyphen, and when to unite the parts of compound words, we had to abandon the attempt as hopeless, and welter in the prevailing chaos.
The places where it does matter are summarized in The New Fowler's Modern English Usage (1996), the most important being

to make clear the unifying of the sense in compound expressions such as punch-drunk, cost-benefit analysis, or weight-carrying, or compounds in attributive use (that is, in front of the noun), as in an up-to-date list or the well-known performer;
to join a prefix to a proper name (e.g. anti-Darwinian);
to avoid misunderstanding by distinguishing phrases such as twenty-odd people and twenty odd people, or a third-world conflict and a third world conflict;
to clarify the use of a prefix, as in recovering from an illness and re-covering an umbrella;
to clarify compounds with similar adjacent sounds, such as sword-dance, co-opt, tool-like.
to represent the use of a common element in a list of compounds, such as four-, six-, and eight-legged animals.
in dividing a word across a line-break. Guidance on word division is given in reference books such as the Oxford Colour Spelling Dictionary (1996).

So, it seems that you do have to use the hyphen!

This is confirmed for the USA too:
http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/compounds.htm
Suspended Compounds*
With a series of nearly identical compounds, we sometimes delay the final term of the final term until the last instance, allowing the hyphen to act as a kind of place holder, as in

The third- and fourth-grade teachers met with the parents.
Both full- and part-time employees will get raises this year.
We don't see many 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old children around here.

And:
Also, when we combine compound nouns, we would use a hyphen with the first, but not the last: when under- and overdeveloped nations get together. . . .

Hope this helps!


Marijke Singer
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:02
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in SpanishSpanish
PRO pts in category: 4
Grading comment
Thanks to everyone for their input, but the points go to Marijke for the excellent references

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Kim Metzger: Nice reference, Marijke!
8 hrs
  -> Thanks, Kim!
Login to enter a peer comment (or grade)

33 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
Personally, ....


Explanation:
I tend to rephrase these sorts of constructs.

You are correct, to my American eyes, the hanging hyphen looks VERY German.

I would use something like

... specific to the country and the company

if I cannot work it in any other way.

Of course, that is just my preference.

jccantrell
United States
Local time: 02:02
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 24

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Nancy Arrowsmith: agree with you on this!
1 hr

agree  Mario Marcolin
13 hrs
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14 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
country or company specific


Explanation:
When context is obvious, I would drop hyphenation alltogether.


Mario Marcolin
Sweden
Local time: 11:02
Native speaker of: Native in SwedishSwedish, Native in EnglishEnglish
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