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Some tips on hyphenation

British English is traditionally fond of using a hyphen between words that are written as one in American English. This seems to be changing and hyphens are being dropped in BE in many words with prefixes like «uni», «semi» and «multi». To hyphenate or not to hyphenate, is a difficult issue. As there are no general rules, I offer some tips:

* In modern BE, the spellings «cooperate» and «coordinate» are replacing «co-operate» and «co-ordinate». Not all «coo-words» follow this pattern and both BE and AE have a hyphen in «co-opt» (elect) as in «they co-opted a woman to the committee».

* New words, or words that can be confused, often have a hyphen in BE as in «co-worker» and «co-pilot». These are single words in AE. As words become familiar, hyphens tend to be dropped in the shorter ones. A typical example is «off-shore» (hyphenated) which now indicates a direction, even though it was the usual BE spelling a few years ago. «Offshore» in one word means an activity like offshore drilling, offshore racing or offshore banking. «Off-licence» (wine and spirits shops in the UK) keeps the hyphen, as does «off-season»; but «offprint» and «offspring» are not hyphenated according to the New Shorter Oxford Dictionary (1993).

* A hyphen in the correct place can prevent ambiguity. Consider the difference between:
a third world war
a third-world war
more important people more-important people

Some of these missing hyphens may amuse or confuse readers:

fifty odd students fifty-odd students
a black legged dog
a black-legged dog
three one dimensional models
three one-dimensional models

* A hyphen can also distinguish between pairs that are spelt the same, but have different meanings. Note the hyphen shows that there is double stress:
recollect (remember) re-collect (collect again)
recover (get well)
re-cover (cover again)
recreation (leisure)
re-creation (create again)
reform (correction)
re-form (reshape)
As some soccer stars have found out, there is a considerable difference between:

resigning (leaving the club) and re-signing (renewing a contract)

* Use a hyphen to join two or more words into a compound adjective that describes a following noun. Examples: «cost-effective methods», «trial-and-error approaches» and «state-of-the-art solutions». Note that if these compounds are placed after the noun, they are not hyphenated: «these methods are cost effective», «the solutions are state of the art».

* When there is an awkward combination of consonants, or two similar consonants, it is a good idea to use a hyphen as in: «bell-like», «animal-like» and «water-repellent».

Tricky words

practice, practise

practice is the spelling for the noun in BE: «the lawyer's practice» (Norw. advokatpraksis). The verb is spelt practise in BE: «You must practise what you preach». Both words are pronounced the same. In AE, practice is the normal spelling for both the noun and verb. The verb will often correspond to the Norw. praktisere or øve. In working life, the Norw. term praksis is usually translated as «experience», as in «work experience» or «teaching experience». For students, a period in industry is termed «industrial experience» or «work placement».

dependant, dependent

dependant in BE is the noun and means those who one supports: «He has several dependants» (Norw. forsørgelsesplikt). The adjective is spelt dependent, as in «dependent variables» (Norw. avhengig). Both words are pronounced the same. In AE, the noun can be spelt dependant or dependent. But the adjective is always spelt dependent.

Enlightening English

In a Tokyo hotel: Is forbitten to steal hotel towels please. If you are not person to do such thing is please not to read notis.

In a Japanese hotel: You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

In a Vienna hotel: In case of fire, do your utmost to alarm the hotel porter.

In a Zurich hotel: Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose.

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