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Say So or Say-So?

Crumbly Writer

Another minor nit in English Grammar: Should you hyphenate "Say so"? Attempting to investigate, the ONLY reference I could easily find were dictionaries, as there are virtually no references to "say-so" anywhere else, which makes me think the more common usage is "say so", though it's not terribly common in terms of Google results.

Does anyone have an authoritative source (usage vs. what Dictionaries consider correct from forty years ago)?

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Does anyone have an authoritative source


Merriam-Webster (say-so): https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/say-so

Dictionary.com (say-so): http://www.dictionary.com/browse/say-so

MacMillan (say-so): https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/say-so

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

Depends on the context.

The budget for this operation depends on the Defence Secretary's say-so.

I will start an investigation into the President's philandering if you say so.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Merriam-Webster (say-so): https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/say-so

Dictionary.com (say-so): http://www.dictionary.com/browse/say-so

MacMillan (say-so): https://www.macmillandictionary.com/us/dictionary/american/say-so

Sorry, Switch, but since it looks like a dictionaries vs. common usage question, I meant any non- dictionary resources (i.e. that either explain why it should be hyphenated, or reports which usage is more accepted in common usage). I understand why dictionaries continue to harp on usages that popular culture flatly rejects, but that's no argument for listening if the usage isn't representative of the countries modern speech patterns.

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Depends on the context.

The budget for this operation depends on the Defence Secretary's say-so.

I will start an investigation into the President's philandering if you say so.

Yeah, everyone always wants context. Here's the sentence suggested by my editor. Just for your information, I've already decided to go with "on his say alone" rather than "on his say so".

As someone under medication for psychiatric conditions, who attempted to murder me, we weren't planning the investigation on his say so alone.

As it is, "say so" doesn't modify anything (instead, "alone" modifies the verb phrase "say so").

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

This is from a simple and paste:

ˈsay-so noun
BrE ; NAmE
[singular] (informal)
permission that somebody gives to do something Nothing could be done without her say-so.
He has the final say-so on these matters (= the right to make decisions).
Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary 9th edition © Oxford University Press, 2015

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Depends on the context.
The budget for this operation depends on the Defence Secretary's say-so.
I will start an investigation into the President's philandering if you say so.

GOOD POINT!
'Say-so' is a noun.
'Say so' is a verb plus an adverb.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

As someone under medication for psychiatric conditions, who attempted to murder me, we weren't planning the investigation on his say so alone.
As it is, "say so" doesn't modify anything (instead, "alone" modifies the verb phrase "say so").

I do not agree. I think that sample sentence has/requires:
'his' : a possessive determiner
'say-so' : the noun being possessed
'alone' : adjective modifying 'say-so'

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ross at Play

GOOD POINT!
'Say-so' is a noun.
'Say so' is a verb plus an adverb.


Same as:

He has a hard-on.
Washing dishes is hard on your hands.

You're wearing too much make-up.
Let's make up and be friends again.

I bought a new pick-up.
Pick up your toys.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

Same as:

He has a hard-on.
Washing dishes is hard on your hands.

You're wearing too much make-up.
Let's make up and be friends again.

I bought a new pick-up.
Pick up your toys.

YES, BUT ...
All of those nouns must indeed be joined up, but it's somewhat arbitrary whether the dictionary prefers with a hyphen or as a single word.
The Oxford Dictionary prefers 'hard-on' and 'pick-up', but nowadays it prefers 'makeup'. There was a time some decades ago when it would have preferred 'make-up' too.

GOOD POINT!

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

The Oxford Dictionary prefers 'hard-on' and 'pick-up', but nowadays it prefers 'makeup'.


And pickup has been preferred in the US for a long time.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

And pickup has been preferred in the US for a long time.

I did say these things were "somewhat arbitrary". :-)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I did say these things were "somewhat arbitrary".


It's a trend that hyphens gradually get eliminated in such circumstances.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

The Oxford Dictionary prefers 'hard-on' and 'pick-up', but nowadays it prefers 'makeup'.


Yes, over time the hyphen disappears. But it remains one word.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

It's a trend that hyphens gradually get eliminated in such circumstances.

It's also a trend that dictionaries are typically the last to catch up, often insisting on usages no one else follows for decades. That's why I was asking about non-dictionary usages. I couldn't find much evidence that "say-so" is widely used (other than from the dictionary elements themeselves), though I couldn't find much contrary evidence. In short, I didn't find much evidence for either side, other than the dictionaries insisting on using ancient (in the modern electronic timeframe) uses.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp  Ross at Play
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Yes, over time the hyphen disappears. But it remains one word.

People are fickle. They don't always do what we'd like them to do. They tend to go their own way, with others tagging along once they observe a general trend.

Capt. Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

In short, I didn't find much evidence for either side, other than the dictionaries insisting on using ancient (in the modern electronic timeframe) uses.


If we were to use what is 'current', we would write in l33t and emoji.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I couldn't find much evidence that "say-so" is widely used (other than from the dictionary elements themeselves)

Unfortunately, ngrams does not process hyphens, i.e. it treats searches for 'say-so' and 'say so' as the thing.

I found this thread illuminating. My first reaction to your question was why would you bother with a hyphen. However, checking dictionaries for the other examples Switch posted has revealed a pattern I was unaware of until now - and a logical reason behind it: that indivisible noun phrases are joined (maybe hyphenated, maybe closed) when they could otherwise be interpreted as a verb followed by a preposition or adverb.

I don't know how frequently that happens, but I think I've learned a logical reason why the noun 'say-so' and similar constructions should be hyphenated, or closed.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I've just made sure I hyphenated up-and-coming to distinguish it from something out of a porn scene.

'Make-up' as a noun in hyphenated, but what about the related verb? I want to accuse one of my characters of being made up/made-up like a Barbie doll.

AJ

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@awnlee jawking

No hyphen in the verb. I can't think of a hyphenated verbal phrase offhand.

richardshagrin

@Geek of Ages

Maybe hand off (the football) could be hand-off. Or does that look like a noun? (The hand-off was botched.) Off-hand is the one that isn't dominate (left hand if you are a right handed person, consider dexterous or sinister in Latin for righties or lefties.) Maybe Moslem thieves get their hand off. That would be their off-hand.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@richardshagrin

Maybe hand off (the football) could be hand-off. Or does that look like a noun? (The hand-off was botched.)


Yes, used in that sentence with a hyphen is a noun. "Hand-off" is the subject in the sentence.

awnlee jawking

@Geek of Ages

Me neither, but I can't help thinking that's illogical. Consider:

That's not true, it's something you just made up.

You've been made up to look much older.

Is it possible the various verbal uses of 'made up' could lead to ambiguity in certain contexts?

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Is it possible the various verbal uses of 'made up' could lead to ambiguity in certain contexts?

I'm with Geek of Ages on this one. All the evidence I've seen suggests that phrasal verbs are never hyphenated. OTOH, phrasal nouns which begin with a word which also exists as a noun usually are, but might over time transition to the closed form (one word).
Does this lead to ambiguity in some circumstances? I expect it probably does but this pattern causes the lowest frequency of ambiguities.
The logic I see is nouns and adjectives are being treated the same because they are they are so often used interchangeably, for example:
She wanted us to make up and the make-up sex was fantastic.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

I'm with Geek of Ages on this one. All the evidence I've seen suggests that phrasal verbs are never hyphenated. OTOH, phrasal nouns which begin with a word which also exists as a noun usually are, but might over time transition to the closed form (one word).

Getting back to my original question, does that mean I should have used (since I've already changed it) "say so" or "say-so"? I'm thoroughly confused, although I understood the whole verb-phase/noun-phrase thing.

I'm guessing, from my source quote, that "say-so" IS hyphenated since it's a verb-phrase acting as a noun. Though I'm still not sure what to watch out for in the future, although now I have a better understanding why dictionaries always come down on the same side every time.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Getting back to my original question, does that mean I should have used (since I've already changed it) "say so" or "say-so"?


say-so

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

This early answer by AJ in the thread got it right.

Depends on the context.
The budget for this operation depends on the Defence Secretary's say-so.
I will start an investigation into the President's philandering if you say so.

It definitely should be hyphenated in the context, "... on his say-so alone."

At the risk of confusing you more ... If substituting with 'advice' makes sense then use 'say-so'. If you'd want to use 'advise' instead then it should be 'say so' ... I think?

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

say-so

I say so too. :-)

Sorry, CW, I couldn't resist. Make that, "I say 'say-so' too."

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