12 thoughts on “Busted open”

  1. What do I think? I think it’s going to take me a *long* time to adapt to this one. Usually I am in favor of ditching hyphens, but this change just goes against the grain for me.

  2. I’m with you — cold, dead hands! But mostly I’m feeling very libertarian about it: Who are you, AP, to tell me when and when not to hyphenate? I can figure it out myself, thanks! (Good thing I’m mostly a Chicago editor anyway.)

  3. I think the issue of whether the meaning is clear without it sometimes has to do with line breaks. I’ve never worked in newspapers, but I would imagine hyphen decisions are made before the page is laid out. So I think on that basis alone the rule as stated is problematic.

  4. I’m not bothered by it at all. Honestly, I think the hyphen in things like “third-grade teacher” looks kind of fussy. And my coworkers love to hyphenate things like “mentored-learning experience” and “early-Christian art expert,” which seems a little ridiculous to me (though I pointed out that if we’re going to hyphenate that last one, it really should be “early-Christian-art expert”).

    I think this is a lot like debates over the serial comma—some people think it unnecessarily clutters up the page, while others trip over its absence. I guess I fall in the “clutter” camp, at least with some compounds. I’d leave it in “first-rate editor,” if that makes you feel any better.

    1. Adverbs ending in “ly” don’t get hyphens, so early is covered by that rule. I agree that many hyphens are unnecessary in compound modifiers. I think some editors overdo it.

  5. I’m assuming that’s the first of a sum total of four ‘quarter touchdowns’ then, and at least three grade teachers….

    Leaving the hypen in makes the meaning clearer.

  6. As a former AP news editor, I suspect this is as much about member pressure as anything. Many newsrooms started eschewing the hyphen, partly because they couldn’t figure it out and didn’t want to be bothered and partly as they “streamlined” editing (read gutted copy desks), they wanted fewer things to deal with in wire copy. It’s not the first time style has been adjusted this way. I’ll generally keep using it in cases like this where I think it improves meaning, but I’m going to have to figure out what to do in editing class because this opens a can of worms for students focused on a grade and the “right” answer.
    The thing about the hyphen is that it is the only common punctuation w/o a really solid basis in gramnar. It was primarily a printer’s mark, so a lot of entanglement has grown up around it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *