Subject: Re: CVS commit: src/dist/am-utils/fsinfo
To: John Nemeth <>
From: Richard Earnshaw <>
List: current-users
Date: 04/09/2003 10:13:46
> On Aug 29, 11:09am, Richard Earnshaw wrote:
> } > (John Nemeth) writes:
> } > > } co-ordinate -> coordinate, etc. Igor Sobrado, PR misc/19813
> } > > 
> } > >      Actually, the first is correct.
> } > 
> } > The Merriam Webster Dictionary and the American Heritage Dictionary
> } > both disagree with you. I tend to believe them.
> } 
> } Fowler (Modern English Usage)[1] prefers dropping the hyphen in this case.
> } 
> } In fact, he goes on to say that for technical words then the hyphen should 
> } generally be dropped *if the reader can be expected to know the word 
> } already*.
> } 
> } It's really a matter of flow: if the reader would have to pause and go 
> } back and re-read what was written a second time, then a hyphen would 
> } probably be required; otherwise, it's safe to drop it.  Hence unusual 
> } combinations of words should probably be hyphenated, but common word pairs 
> } need not be.
>      A prefix isn't a word.  The original example deals with prepending
> a prefix to word, not smashing two unrelated words together.

Strictly correct, but misses the point entirely (and I note that you 
haven't used pre-pending and un-related :-).

The article I was quoting from in Fowler was referring specifically to the 
co- prefix.  He goes on to divide usage into 6 categories (I've 
paraphrased very slightly, but only for brevity):

1 Hyphen never used (eg coalesce, coagulate)
2 So common that recognition by the reader can be expected (coefficient 
cooperate coordinate)
3 Used and seen only by specialists (coaxial coseismal)
4 Always have a hyphen to indicate that the spelling is intentional 
5 To avoid readability problems where syllables appear misplaced if not 
hyphenated (co-latitue co-tidal)
6  When creating a new co- word (co-secretary, co-authorship)

Interestingly, he puts coordinate in category 2 and not 3.