Monday, December 8, 2008

Hyphenation deviation

A "rent-to-own" store at a local strip mall has the following sign in its window:

GOTTA
HAVE
GIFTS
FOR THE YEAR
ARE HERE

But hanging above the store's entrance is another sign:

GOTTA-HAVE
GIFTS HERE

Which leads to (not "begs") this question: Why is there no hyphen in the other sign?

My best guess: Some designer said that

GOTTA-
HAVE
GIFTS

would look lousy.

Or could it be that, in these ever-tightening financial times, the store chain decided it had to cut back on hyphens?

And if so, where does the store get its hyphens? From Rent-a-Hyphen?

Are there specialized stores for this sort of thing? Comma World? The Period Store? Or, for those who can afford a more upscale product, Ampersands R Us?

And if you rent a hyphen but miss a payment, does someone come and repossess it? And maybe take a semicolon or two as interest?

Are punctuation-mark stores a good investment? Is it best to diversify -- put some of your money in hyphens and dashes, and some in diacritical marks? Should we keep a sharp eye on the international value of the umlaut?

And do badly placed apostrophes drive properly placed apostrophes out of circulation?

It's hard to say. Perhaps we should just await the release of that key indicator, the Gross National Syntax.

1 comment:

JaimeLynn Wood said...

two adverbs working together to describe a noun would be hyphenated to show the one idea.

exception would be adjectives ending in ly.

example:
A gotta-have gift for the holidays and the new drone. (hyphenated to show that gotta-have is one for the gift. otherwise gotta have isnt proper, or you would put got-to-have)

I gotta have that scarf. (not hyphenated, not describng a noun.)

That is a lovely-needed winter coat you have. (incorrect because no ly ending adjectives can by hyphenated. you can descibe the coat with lovely by itself. Lovely coat.)