The case of the hyphen and other crimes of omission and commission

Traffic calmed area? - no, it didnt!

Traffic calmed area? - no, it didn't!

Many lament the effective demise of the apostrophe, misused to the point of uselessness. (Here’s a wee poem I penned on the subject many years ago. Note that it might have better to have referred to possessive adjectives rather than possessive pronouns, but the point is valid.)

The poor wee hyphen does not appear to have such an ardent club of supporters, and even the UK Government’s Department for Transport is ignorant of the little chap. This does nothing for my blood pressure. Whenever I see the “Traffic calmed area” sign, I want to shout: “No it %$££”^ well didn’t! The area was much calmer before the &^$% traffic!” (The sign should read, of course: “Traffic-calmed area”.)

From this you may glean the following:

(1) I had a good education;
(2) I am an insufferable pedant.

Having said that, I have no problem whatsoever with those who admit ignorance and come to me for writing assistance. What I cannot stand is those who don’t have a clue but think it is acceptable to inflict their shoddy punctuation on the public.

Best wishes

Eric
P.S. Speaking of good English, Lynne Truss is top of my hit list for her use of redundant words. I seem to remember that her otherwise excellent book on punctuation included the solecism “work colleague”. Redundancies such as this are inexcusable in a book by a journalist who is setting herself up as a language expert. For those who don’t understand my remark I should explain that a colleague is, by definition, a person with whom one works; the adjective (“work”) is redundant. The BBC is a notable offender when it comes to “work colleague”. STOP IT!

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About biowrite

I am a writer specialising in non-fiction, particularly in assisting people with their biographies.
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