Tuesday, August 30, 2011

In which I get worked up about grammar.

I was told by a coworker today that it is “not our style” to hyphenate an entire adjectival phrase if it’s “too long.” “Too long” seems to be totally arbitrary but agreement between that coworker and another topped out at about two words.

I know this means precisely nothing to most of you, but to those of you who know what the hell I mean, let’s have a moment of silence for proper grammar. This is ridiculous. The argument, I guess, is that “it doesn’t help readability” – um, yes it freaking does; that’s the whole point – and it’s a pain for our typists to have to insert line-breaks, as our computer program sees hyphenated words as single entities. Well, coworker, the thing is, we hyphenate them because they are intended to be seen as single entities, stupid.

I am seriously way more worked up about this than is reasonable. We are a publication company. We apply rules of style and grammar to other people’s words. Unless, I guess, some of us don’t feel like it sometimes.

For anyone still reading who doesn’t know what an adjectival phrase is, it’s a group of words combined to describe a single noun: for example, “my always-ten-minutes-late friend.” Or a “city-registered electrician.” Or “banana-flavored-smoothie-hating self.” I don’t know, I’m really grumpy about this and I don’t know anyone who would possibly get this worked up, so I’m ranting to myself and can’t think of a good example.

Come on, guys, give me some hyphenated adjectival phrases to cheer me up!

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