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  1. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    Hyphens

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by CaliWriterWV, Dec 3, 2009.

    Em/En Dash & Hyphens

    So, I know what a Hyphen is (or so I thought) but this person is trying to tell me otherwise.

    I thought Hyphens were made to do the following;

    -join two or more words serving as a single adjective before a noun,
    -Use a hyphen with compound numbers,
    -Use a hyphen to avoid confusion or an awkward combination of letters,
    -Use a hyphen with the prefixes ex- (meaning former), self-, all-; with the suffix -elect; between a prefix and a capitalized word; and with figures or letters,
    -Use a hyphen to divide words at the end of a line if necessary, and make the break only between syllables,
    -For line breaks, divide already hyphenated words only at the hyphen,
    -For line breaks in words ending in -ing, if a single final consonant in the root word is doubled before the suffix, hyphenate between the consonants; otherwise, hyphenate at the suffix itself.


    But this person is telling me this;

    I've taken out pretty much all of my Grammar books, looked at many sites and I've never seen a Hyphen used the way he's thinking it's supposed to mean in this book.

    Can anyone help out? Thanks for your time.
     
  2. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    The grammatical, orthographic and end-of-line hyphen which you talk about, Cali, it's your basic one-o-one grammar and punctuation. I think this guy is talking more about literary hyphens (but that's to do with addressing inanimate objects and the deceased, eesh, there may be another way the hyphen is used as literary device, though, and he's adapting it...). The whole thing isn't really clear...
     
  3. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    Ok.

    He's trying to tell me that this sentence;
    "Ben is her friend, her husband — a symbol of what is important to her, and someone to be protected."

    means Ben is actually a symbol for someone else.

    Is that true?
     
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  4. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    Lol, this is complicated. I'm having difficulty connecting the whole 'hyphen' thing to what you're asking, hun.

    Your extended hyphen '—' (or em dash) that you're using between 'husband' and 'a' (...husband '—' a...) does a different job to the smaller 'hyphen' you're asking about in your original post.
    This is a hyphen '-'
    This is an em dash '—'
    See the difference in length? And they both have different effects, the emdash giving you more emphasis to a point etc.

    As for what the guy is trying to say and its relation to hypehns, I have no idea. Although if it's taken in the context of extended hyphen, it comes a bit clearer, I think (memo to self, must stop taking those mind-melt drugs...)

    Google emdash (or look on this site, there's info round here somewhere...)
     
  5. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    *smacks forehead*

    I see, he messed up and called it something else. Thanks for your help. I was wondering why he kept saying Hyphen and meant it to be used in that way.

    So, all the emdash means is that it's an abrupt break in thought.
    "Ben is her friend, her husband — a symbol of what is important to her, and someone to be protected."

    So, he is her friend and husband. And not a symbol for it.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as explained, he just confused hyphen and em dash...

    so, your sentence above is correctly punctuated... however, there should be no space before or after the dash...

    and i don't know what you meant by 'not a symbol for it'... what are you referring to with 'it'?...
     
  7. tonten
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    tonten Senior Member

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    How come in some books I see spaces between the EM dash and some do not?

    Is there a different way of using the EM dash when you have spaces?
     
  8. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    American usage doesn't have any spaces before after the em dash, mama's right there, but British usage does -- we like our space. It just depends where you dip you're toes, Tonten. But the meaning remains the same. ;)

    *Kisses Cali's hurt head* Don't sweat it, hun. Punctuation trips the best of people up.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Also, don't take it as gospel that the author of any given book does things correctly. I have spotted errors in nearly every book I own. Some are more egregious than others, but no one should take it as license to ignore the rules and standards.

    You can probably easily get away with violating the more obscure and finicky standards. Even your veteran submissions editor probably doesn't know all of them. But the more errors you leave in your manuscript, the greater the likelihood you will irritate said submissions editor, and the more likely he or she will peg you as an amateur and send your manuscript to the reject pile.
     
  10. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    The double dash (m dash) isn't used so much in the UK. In fact, I hadn't really come across it much until the days of the Internet (even though we had standard submission practice where I worked at The Observer newspaper, and I had some training as a proofreader).

    I was advised as follows:

    Don't put a gap before/after when it's used US style
    This time he vowed--as he had before--to err on the side of caution.

    But if you use a long dash, more usual UK style, leave a space each side
    This time he vowed — as he had before — to err on the side of caution. (This way there is no danger of it being confused with a hyphen.)
     
  11. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    Well, this guy is trying to tell me that in that sentence, the narrator isn't saying that Ben actually is her friend or husband, but actually a "symbol" for it.

    "Ben is her friend, her husband — a symbol of what is important to her, and someone to be protected."

    I thought, the em-dash was put in that sentence to show a change of topic. But he's saying it's actually in there to tell the reader that- well, here you read what he told me.

    "Take a look at the structure of the sentence in which it is contained, the abrupt hyphen to a conclusion indicates the last clause is a summation of the previous clause"

    I was thinking that since the first clause:
    "Ben is her friend, her husband" can stand by it's self and that the second clause:"— a symbol of what is important to her, and someone to be protected." would just be an add(more detail) on to what Ben is to her.

    But this guys is trying to tell me that this sentence is actually saying that Ben is only a symbol for her friend and husband. Not actually making Ben her Husband or friend.

    He thinks because the second clause says he's a symbol for something to protect and something important, that means he's also a symbol of her friend and lover. Therefore, making Ben not her friend or love but only a symbol of them.

    Help?

    Thanks ^^
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...it's not a 'double dash' [unless you're referring to a double 'en' dash]... it's technically a double hyphen... and is used to signal the printer that an em dash is wanted there...

    ..it's been standard usage in the us, since the days of the typewriter...

    ...and advised correctly...

    ...perhaps... but 'we' don't normally do that on our side of the pond...

    cali...as i explained in the pm, the guy doesn't know what he's talking about... the sentence says nothing of the kind... only that ben--the husband--is a symbol to the wife of what's important to her and is someone she thinks should be protected...
     
  13. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    Thank you for the help, mammamaia.

    I should have known something was up with the dude the moment he said it was a Hyphen. *smacks forehead again*

    Really, though. Thank you for the help.

    *Hug*
     
  14. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    Ok.

    The em dash CAN act like a colon ( : ). The colon is a punctuation mark that tells the reader that everything previously said in the clause, is about to get a logical conclusion, be summoned up, concluded, or paraphrased in the last remaining clause. Whch is what this guy is trying to explain, I think. Look at it like this:

    "Ben is her friend, her husband: a symbol of what is important to her, and someone to be protected."

    Compared to:

    "Ben is her friend, her husband a symbol of what is important to her, and someone to be protected."

    Both punctuation marks are doing exactly the same thing: sticking out like a sore thumb in order to give the clause before a logical conclusion (summation if you wish).

    Most people are used to seeing the colon do that job, this guy is just trying to explain that the extended hyphen can be seen to work in the same way. Which is why it made more sense when it was taken in context of the extended hyphen over the hyphen you classified in your first post.

    But in the example this guy gives, I think he's suggesting there's a fault with how those logical sequences have been set up in that one particular example (it doesn't lead to the logical conclusion it seems to suggest). Maybe kind of like a non sequintor (where one sentence doesn't follow logically from another, only this is working more at complex clause level. Lol, it's giving me a complex anyway.).

    Hope that helps, hun. I don't think the guy is wrong; he's just expecting a hell of a lot from the reader.
     
  15. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    Thanks, Sound of Silence. That makes sense too.

    But how this sentence is structured seems that it's not likely saying that Ben is a symbol for her friend and husband.

    Because, Ben really is her friend. So if he's already her friend he can't be a symbol for it, right?

    And if the second clause is supposed to really "summarize" the first, that would mean Ben isn't really her friend but only a symbol for it.

    But like I was saying, Ben really IS her friend. Meaning he can't be a symbol for it, right?
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you're right, cali!

    sos seems to be confused in the same way as your 'advisor' was, if he thinks the guy isn't wrong on that 'symbol' issue...
     
  17. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    All right. That's what I thought.

    Thanks for more help, mamma.
     
  18. Sound of Silence
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    Sound of Silence Member

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    Hey, last time I checked I was a she, M. :)

    Ok, back to it...

    Cali, you wrote:

    In that last clause (a symbol of what is...) it's argued that the extended hyphen is wrongly summoning Ben up as 'the symbol', and I very much agree unless anyone can show me differently.

    Look at this, this is written to sum up everything previously said:

    Ben is... -- a symbol of what is important...

    The guy is trying to say that Ben can only ever symbolise a group of freinds, lovers, husbands etc - he can't be a symbol himself. And that's exactly what the extended hyphen is doing: it's cancelling out the important information 'Ben is a friend, lover' by summing it up simply as 'Ben is a symbol'. No he's not: he's a man, he's a friend, a lover, husband - everything that is important to her.

    Maybe it would be better written as:

    To her Ben simbolises friendship: love, honesty, marriage - everything she needs to protect and be protected by.

    But just not 'Ben...is a symbol of what's important to her.'. Because he can't be a symbol for himself, he has to symbolise the group (i.e. friends, lovers, etc).

    Mama, I'd be interested to see your theorising on this...
     
  19. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    But Ben IS her friend, though. How can he be a symbol of a friend if he IS her friend?

    The Sentence:
    "Ben is her friend, her husband — a symbol of what is important to her, and someone to be protected."

    All I keep getting from this sentence is that Ben is her friend and husband which is something of importance to her and someone to be protected.

    If it had said:
    "Ben--a symbol of her husband and friend-- is someone to be protected" I could see where that idea comes from. But it doesn't.

    It says he's her friend, her husband, and says that he's a symbol of what is important to her and someone to be protected.
     
  20. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    I didn't find the sentence in any way confusing, and this is exactly what I got from it. . . No worries, Cali.
     
  21. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    So you agree that it's not saying Ben is just a symbol for her friend and husband?

    And you agree that it's actually telling us, the reader, that Ben IS her friend and husband and is also something important and someone to be protected?

    Because, this guy has seriously confused me with his idiocy.
     
  22. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Well, the sentence is simply a list of things Ben "is." The fuction of the em dash in this structure is to denote a longer pause than a comma would. That's pretty much it. You could just as easily replace the dash with a comma, and the literal meaning wouldn't change.

    There are a couple of reasons to use the dash, however. The first two list items are quite specific, whereas the two following the dash are more general. They can also be thought to expand on the first two points, and the more significant pause carries that implication.

    A pause can alter one's perception of a sentence without changing its meaning. You've changed a boring list into something more meaningful, subtely adding a certain depth through implied meaning. It's still essentially a list, though, and should be read as such.

    I think this is where a writer's instincts come into play, and yours have served you well. I much prefer the sentence with the dash.
     
  23. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    So everything after the dash is just an expansion of what else Ben is to her?


    Okay, thanks ^^

    I'm going to rep you now.
     
  24. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Yep. Exactly. Lol.
     
  25. CaliWriterWV
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    CaliWriterWV Member

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    Oh my goodness. Thank you. That's what I thought.

    So it's true, this dude really is just an idiot.

    Thanks again :-D
     

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