for want of a hyphen (“I want hyphen”)

Es­ti­mated reading time is 1 minute.

FROM TODAY’S SEATTLE TIMES (July 19, 2013) and a piece ti­tled “Gun-rights group sues city over emails al­legedly with­held”: An or­ga­ni­za­tion called Wash­ington Cease Fire is de­scribed as “an anti-gun vi­o­lence group.” Tech­ni­cally, this is cor­rect: the hy­phen is nec­es­sary to link “anti” with “gun.” But the word “vi­o­lence “ is left hanging: one could read this as saying that the group was against guns but prone to vi­o­lence in its ef­forts to achieve its goals.

While an­other hy­phen is NOT prop­erly re­quired, I be­lieve that extra punc­tu­a­tion that as­sists the reader in un­der­standing ex­actly what the writer in­tends should be en­cour­aged. In this case, had there been two hy­phens (as in “anti-gun-violence”), there would be NO doubt as to the fact that Wash­ington Cease­Fire was a group at­tempting to stop the spread of vi­o­lence caused by gun-users.

Need­less to say—a phrase vir­tu­ally every grammar guide warns against using—I am prob­ably NOT going to have my way on this issue in the fore­see­able fu­ture. (Un­less, of course, this site be­comes as pop­ular as Julie Pow­ell’s blog was in 2002-2003.) I can al­ways run around singing “I want hy­phen” to the tune of I Want Candy . . .



HEADER IMAGE: A ro­man­ti­cist’s fan­tasy: as much as it seems log­ical to as­sume that arming women pre­vents rape, it just ain’t so. If it were, we would be reading reg­ular news ar­ti­cles about women standing off rapists if not out­right shooting them. We don’t. What we do read is sta­tis­tics telling us that bringing a gun into our homes dra­mat­i­cally in­creases the like­li­hood of our dying by a gun. Your call, really . . .



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Neal - ex­cel­lent ob­ser­va­tion! To help clarify the matter, the words could have been written as: “anti-gun vi­o­lence” group.

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