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Quick hyphenation question

Crumbly Writer

What do you do with multiple adjectives modifying a noun? Take the following sentence:

Amanda was a young looking, vibrant woman, despite having two grown kids.

Would that be "young-looking, vibrant woman" or just plain "young looking, vibrant woman"? It seems to me that both "young looking" and vibrant modify "woman", so if "vibrant" were multiple words, they'd both be hyphenated.

Any resident expects care to weigh in?

Ernest Bywater

I find The Rev has the best take on these type of issues. He often hyphenates such matters where I forget to. I suggest you ask him by email.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I would write it just as you did with the commas where they are and no hyphens.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
robberhands

I'd write, 'Amanda was a youthful and vibrant woman, despite having two grown kids,' and then stop worrying about hyphen.

awnlee jawking

@Switch Blayde

I would rate this the most correct answer, although being paranoid about avoiding possible ambiguity, I personally would opt for the hyphen.

I guess that makes me a hypocrite :(

AJ

Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

"Young-looking" should have a hyphen in it regardless of whether it's paired with another adjective. Young modifies "looking"; it does not modify the noun that "young-looking" as an adjectival phrase modifies.

Cf. "Stained-glass window"

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

"Young-looking" should have a hyphen in it regardless of whether it's paired with another adjective. Young modifies "looking"; it does not modify the noun that "young-looking" as an adjectival phrase modifies.

I'm not sure that's true. It is true that the combined word modifies the noun as a single word, but I'm not convinced that "young" modifies "looking". Maybe Ross will clarify, as he LOVES researching these minor, nitty-gritty details. 'D

Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

Given that you can't say "a looking woman" and mean something sensible (unless you're considering "look" to be the action she's taking rather than a state she's in), I'd say it's pretty nonsensical to say that "young" does not modify "looking".

Alternately, if you drop "looking", it should be obvious that "a young woman" and "a young-looking woman" mean two different things.

Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

Given that you can't say "a looking woman" and mean something sensible (unless you're considering "look" to be the action she's taking rather than a state she's in), I'd say it's pretty nonsensical to say that "young" does not modify "looking".

I'm not going to argue meaning, as we're discussing rules of sentence construction and, as I've already said, I'm not sure on the answer anyway. Your argument might be correct, but I'd rather wait until the grammar experts weigh in.

By the way, I checked with The Rev, who Ernest suggested contacting. According to him: "This isn't an easy one, as it could go both ways." (i.e. there isn't an easy solution according to the rules of grammar (I'm assuming that he knows the basic rules concerning this, though he didn't quote chapter and verse)). He says he'd hyphenate it, but suggesting restructuring the sentence, which is what I'd already done (re: robberhand's suggestion). Still, I'd rather know what the proper way of handling this rather than perpetually relying on workarounds.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

wait until the grammar experts weigh in


I already did ;)

Arguably, it's much more a typographical question than a grammatical one: https://practicaltypography.com/hyphens-and-dashes.html

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Crumbly Writer

I'm not sure that's true.


Looking in reference to a person's appearance can be used in a variety of ways: haggard looking, thin looking, exhausted looking, etc. Therefore, young is modifying looking.

I would go without a hyphen.

While not asked, I would also probably use a semi-colon after woman, since there are two closely related independent clauses.

Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

I already did ;)

An interesting review (most of which I already knew), but it doesn't address multiple adjectives modifying a single noun, other than specifying alternate restrictions on the standard hyphenation rules (not using it for foreign terms or proper names).

I'm afraid your "it doesn't make sense if you use only the first word of the combination phrase" is the best we can use, as there doesn't seem to be any clearer guideline.

Crumbly Writer

@REP

Looking in reference to a person's appearance can be used in a variety of ways: haggard looking, thin looking, exhausted looking, etc. Therefore, young is modifying looking.

And you'd never hyphenate any of those—unless the combination modify a noun. For example, "she was haggard looking" wouldn't heed a hyphen.

Replies:   REP
REP
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


she was haggard looking"


Never said it did. What I said, was haggard is modifying looking, which you earlier said 'young' wasn't.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@REP

Never said it did. What I said, was haggard is modifying looking, which you earlier said 'young' wasn't.

And I never said it did. I merely said I didn't know how the two adjective words relate to each other. I wasn't convinced that was the reason why they're used as they are, as I've never heard it used to explain hyphenated words before. If it was, you'd think that would be the FIRST thing they'd detail. Thus I'm just not sure whether what you're suggesting is right or not. We just don't have enough information to judge at this point. We need a grammar maven to set us straight.

All the grammar books I've ever seen talk about multiple-word adjectives modifying their nouns, not their modifying themselves.

Replies:   REP
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Grammar Girls says:

follow the rule that you hyphenate compound modifiers when they come before a noun, and don't hyphenate them when they come after a noun.


so she would hyphenate "young-looking."

She also says:

Sometimes it is especially important to hyphenate the compound modifier because words can mean different things depending on the hyphenation. When you hyphenate the words, you are applying them as a single unit to the noun.

For example, there's a difference between a hot-water bottle with a hyphen and a hot water bottle without a hyphen. When you hyphenate hot-water, you're making it a single compound modifier that applies to the word bottle. It's a bottle for holding hot water. But when you don't hyphenate hot water, the words are separate modifiers and you're describing a water bottle that is currently hot.

Always consider whether hyphenation will affect your meaning.


However... (see my next post also from Grammar Girl)

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

This is why I wouldn't hyphenate it. Also from Grammar Girl:

The reason I didn't say that I absolutely should have hyphenated "noise canceling headphones" is that if leaving out the hyphen causes no ambiguity, some style guides, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, say it's OK to leave it out; and I don't think anyone would read my meaning differently with or without a hyphen.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Technically correct is:
young-looking, vibrant woman.

'Young' is only modifying 'looking', so that's why it should be hyphenated.

The comma should be used be 'vibrant, young-looking woman' sounds equally natural.

helmut_meukel

@Geek of Ages

Alternately, if you drop "looking", it should be obvious that "a young woman" and "a young-looking woman" mean two different things.


Wouldn't this imply it's the other way round: Not 'young' modifying 'looking' but 'looking' modifying 'young'?

Now totally confused, HM.

robberhands

@helmut_meukel

Wouldn't this imply it's the other way round: Not 'young' modifying 'looking' but 'looking' modifying 'young'?
Now totally confused, HM.

From a logical point of view, I'd agree. However, we're talking about grammar, so logic doesn't apply. That's also the reason only a special breed of people are equipped to become an editor or proofreader. They have to be born and raised on the other side of logic.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

I'm not sure that's true. It is true that the combined word modifies the noun as a single word, but I'm not convinced that "young" modifies "looking". Maybe Ross will clarify, as he LOVES researching these minor, nitty-gritty details.

Ross is back on board after a few days traveling to Malaysia, looking for dentists, and assorted other nightmares.
No need to research the hyphen. You explained that correctly with "It is true that the combined word [young-looking] modifies the noun [woman] as a single word."

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play

@REP

since there are two closely related independent clauses.

The second clause is not "independent".
An "independent clause" is something that may exist as a grammatically correct sentence, which this does not:

Despite having two grown kids.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

Quoting Grammar Girl:
'The reason I didn't say that I absolutely should have hyphenated "noise canceling headphones" is that if leaving out the hyphen causes no ambiguity, some style guides, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, say it's OK to leave it out; and I don't think anyone would read my meaning differently with or without a hyphen.'

With this one the "technically correct" answer is clear-cut: when placed before a noun they modify, both 'noise-canceling' and 'young-looking' require hyphens.
Should authors of fiction do that?
It is perfectly legitimate for authors to adopt a style of "leaving out the hyphen causes no ambiguity".
However, I would hasten to shout, "BEWARE! ... Dragons be there!"

I take the view that using extra hyphens is not a great burden on readers and always using them when they are required for formal writing is the easiest and safest way to ensure no ambiguities slip through.
I would not say an author who adopts the alternative style is wrong. However, it is dangerous. It takes a lot of extra effort to really check whether a hyphen can be omitted without allowing some potential ambiguity. They are certain to make some mistakes!
I wouldn't recommend it, but if you trust yourself and your editors enough, then the extra efforts probably would enhance your readers' experience.

Replies:   Ross at Play
REP

@Crumbly Writer

multiple-word adjectives modifying their nouns, not their modifying themselves.


True. However, 'looking' is being used as a noun in the sense of appearance.

noun
17. the way in which a person or thing appears to the eye or to the mind; aspect:
He has the look of an honest man. The tablecloth has a cheap look.
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/looking

So when 'looking' is used that way, 'young' is modifying a noun.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ross at Play

I wouldn't recommend it, but if you trust yourself and your editors enough, then the extra efforts probably would enhance your readers' experience.

After pondering on that for a while, I think there is one test that authors could safely use to reduce the number of times they hyphenate compound adjectives: if omitting the second word of the compound adjective creates nonsense, then it is safe.

Some examples:
* 'noise speakers' is nonsense, so 'noise cancelling speakers' is safe.
* 'young woman' has a meaning, so 'young-looking woman' must be hyphenated.

But note, if you adopt that style you will still write some phrases that are ambiguous.

For example, if you write the words 'most skilled workers'. If you mean the best workers that must be written as 'most-skilled workers'. If you mean the majority of workers that should be 'most skilled workers'.

If your style is to omit hyphens when there is no ambiguity, you should also be checking for times when adding a hyphen changes the meaning. I doubt many would notice that to be unambiguous your meaning is the majority of workers you would then need:
'most, skilled workers'. :(

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

'most, skilled workers'


I suspect you'd struggle to find that comma in any style guide :(

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

re: 'most, skilled workers'
I suspect you'd struggle to find that comma in any style guide :(

I did not say I was recommending the style I described. In fact, I was explaining a danger of using that style, one of the reasons I would recommend against it.

I was playing Devil's Advocate. Many authors have a distaste for hyphenations that feel excessive. I was trying to explain a test they could use, safely, to reduce some hyphens without causing ambiguities: that is the reason the rule about hyphenating compound adjectives exists.

I don't think any style guides would suggest my comma there is invalid. There is an accepted practice that authors may bring the most important adjective to the front when they have multiple modifiers, as opposed to using the order which sounds most natural, but they should then follow the "promoted" adjectives with commas.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I don't think any style guides would suggest my comma there is invalid.


Well, you're the style guide expert but that surprises me. I'm a pretty lenient editor/proofreader but that's something I'd leap on straightaway.

As another example, I wouldn't let 'all, skilled workers' or 'no, skilled workers' past either.

AJ

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

I'm a pretty lenient editor/proofreader but that's something I'd leap on straightaway.

All the more because the ambiguity is easy to rectify even without hyphens or a comma. 'Most of the skilled workers' and 'the most skilled workers' reads just as easily.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

'Most of the skilled workers'


Now you're just poking the minimalists in the eye ;)

AJ

Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Well, you're the style guide expert but that surprises me. I'm a pretty lenient editor/proofreader but that's something I'd leap on straightaway.
As another example, I wouldn't let 'all, skilled workers' or 'no, skilled workers' past either.

I stand by what I explained before.

Would you, as an editor/proofreader, suggest I should change this:

When he picked out a plastic ball I screamed, "No! The rubber, big red ball."

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

Now you're just poking the minimalists in the eye ;)

I'll trade you a hyphen for an 'of' or a comma anytime.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

Would you, as an editor/proofreader, suggest I should change this:

You're lucky I'm no editor; I'd tar and feather you for that sentence.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Now you're just poking the minimalists in the eye ;)

What a damn party pooper! Spoiling a perfectly enjoyable argument with suggestions we should think about the best words to convey our meaning. :(

Note, robberhands, I started this exchange with these words:

For example, if you write the words 'most skilled workers'.

So, all along, I've been discussing correct punctuation - not quality writing!

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

So, all along, I've been discussing correct punctuation - not quality writing!

Why? Just to prove one more time that there is no correlation?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

You're lucky I'm no editor; I'd tar and feather you for that sentence.

Okay, Mister Author, what would you write instead?

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

Okay, Mister Author, what would you write instead?

OK:

When he picked out a plastic ball I screamed, "No, you moron! I said pick the big red, rubber ball. The ball you picked is neither big, nor red, nor is it made of rubber! That's plastic, you imbecile!"

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

Why? Just to prove one more time that there is no correlation?

I have two possible answers to that:

#1. I note we use the same style of smileys.

#2. No. Because that is what this thread had been discussing. I found a suitable example to discuss a question of punctuation, and that's all it was.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Would you, as an editor/proofreader, suggest I should change this:

When he picked out a plastic ball I screamed, "No! The rubber, big red ball."


I would need more context, but surely there's a better alternative. Are you trying to engineer a situation where rubber is the salient identifying quality of one of a number of big, red balls? ;)

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

When he picked out a plastic ball I screamed, "No, you moron! I said pick the big red, rubber ball. The ball you picked is neither big, nor red, nor is it made of rubber! That's plastic, you imbecile!"

You really do like including extended decorations in your writing, don't you?

Replies:   robberhands
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Are you trying to engineer a situation where rubber is the salient identifying quality of one of a number of big, red balls? ;)

I am writing to provide an example where the author wants to give most prominence to one out of a list of adjectives.

The way to do that is put it first, follow it with a comma, and then proceed with the remainder of your noun phrase as usual.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
robberhands

@Ross at Play

You really do like including extended decorations in your writing, don't you?

I merely breathed a little life into your stilted example.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I'm not convinced :
"No, you moron! I said pick the most, deflated, rubber ball."
is an acceptable variant of:
"No, you moron! I said pick the most-deflated, rubber ball."

AJ

Replies:   REP
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

I merely breathed a little life into your stilted example.


I hope the minimalists don't apply their writing mantra to their sex lives. "But darling, it's cleaner and stronger if we omit the foreplay." ;)

AJ

REP

@awnlee jawking

The way to do that is put it first, follow it with a comma, and then proceed with the remainder of your noun phrase as usual.


I agree with you Awnlee. The example you created by following Ross's advice, shown above, is not a suitable alternative.

The general rule is if you can put a string of modifiers together separated by 'and', then you can replace the 'and' with a comma. If you cannot join the modifiers with 'and' then no comma, and there is a natural order to the sequence in which the modifiers should be listed.

So converting the example back, we get:

"No, you moron! I said pick the most and deflated and rubber ball."

It doesn't work.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@REP

The general rule is if you can put a string of modifiers together separated by 'and', then you can replace the 'and' with a comma. If you cannot join the modifiers with 'and' then no comma, and there is a natural order to the sequence in which the modifiers should be listed.

That is a very good description of the general rule, but it is not quite complete.
I would add:
If you want to change the natural order, to identify one modifier as being the most important, then place that one first and follow it with a comm.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
BlacKnight

@Ross at Play

Would you, as an editor/proofreader, suggest I should change this:

When he picked out a plastic ball I screamed, "No! The rubber, big red ball."

Yes. It's weirdly phrased and oddly punctuated, making the natural interpretation "rubber" as a noun, and "big red ball" as a vocative. You're telling a big red ball that you wanted either a condom or an eraser, depending on the dialect of English you write in.

This is obviously nonsense, which means that it's a bad sentence.

I'd write it: "When he picked out a plastic ball, I screamed, 'No! The big red rubber ball.'"

This relies on italics to indicate the emphasis, rather than an unnatural ordering of adjectives, which makes the sentence less amenable to misinterpretation.

Also, "young-looking" should be hyphenated, and, whatever Grammar Girl says, so should "noise-canceling". It's true that they're not particularly ambiguous without the hyphen, but consistency is more important than... whatever advantage it is that you hypothetically get from leaving the hyphen out, which I fail to see.

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee_jawking

@REP

The general rule is if you can put a string of modifiers together separated by 'and', then you can replace the 'and' with a comma. If you cannot join the modifiers with 'and' then no comma, and there is a natural order to the sequence in which the modifiers should be listed.


That's an interesting rule and it sounds useful. Now what can I afford to forget in order to squeeze it into my minuscule brain capacity? :(

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@awnlee_jawking


Now what can I afford to forget in order to squeeze it into my minuscule brain capacity? :(


I'd suggest you best forget about your modesty.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ross at Play

@BlacKnight

Re: When he picked out a plastic ball I screamed, "No! The rubber, big red ball."
Yes. It's weirdly phrased and oddly punctuated, making the natural interpretation "rubber" as a noun, and "big red ball" as a vocative.

If analysed in isolation that interpretation is possible.
Obviously, my post implied that sentence would have come just after the same speaker had said, "Please pick out the big red rubber ball."
It seems like a totally natural thing that someone would say, and they would say it with a distinct pause after 'rubber'.

Replies:   BlacKnight
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

I'd suggest you best forget about your modesty.


No, I'm not a pretty sight when I'm naked :(

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@awnlee jawking

No, I'm not a pretty sight when I'm naked :(

In that case, I suggest freeing your self-esteem from superficial vanities such as prettiness.

Crumbly Writer

@helmut_meukel

Alternately, if you drop "looking", it should be obvious that "a young woman" and "a young-looking woman" mean two different things.

Wouldn't this imply it's the other way round: Not 'young' modifying 'looking' but 'looking' modifying 'young'?

Now totally confused, HM.

As Switch said, in this case "young looking woman" means the exact same thing that "young-looking woman" does. Therefore the dash isn't required, but as always, it's best to be consistent so readers know what to expect. In my case, I'd probably keep it since I use other multiple-word modifiers.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

No need to research the hyphen. You explained that correctly with "It is true that the combined word [young-looking] modifies the noun [woman] as a single word."

Thanks. That's what I'd thought. "young" doesn't modify looking. Instead, the combined term "young-looking" is treated as a single word which modifies "woman".

Thanks for that verification, as I was thinking my sticking to my guns was mistaken (mainly because I'd never heard the idea of one modifier modifying the other modifier).

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Thanks. That's what I'd thought. "young" doesn't modify looking. Instead, the combined term "young-looking" is treated as a single word which modifies "woman".

You got the right answer, but the explanation is wrong.

The compound adjective, 'young looking', modifies the noun, 'woman'. That is the relevant question for why it should be hyphenated before a noun but not in other positions.

But also, if you examine the compound adjective it consists of an adjective, 'young', which does modify the noun, 'looking'. But that is only really relevant to help you figure out if something is a compound adjective. It's not a test you can routinely apply because not all compound adjectives have such a simple adjective plus noun form.

Once you figure out anything is functioning as a compound adjective you treat them all the same - as a single entity.

ETA:
SB questioned below my statement that 'looking' was a noun. I have no idea. It probably is an adjective. All I'm sure of is that it is being modified by 'young' and 'young looking' is then functioning as a compound adjective.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

As another example, I wouldn't let 'all, skilled workers' or 'no, skilled workers' past either.

That's why it's best to hyphenate those modifiers!!! Hyphenating words (and modifiers) is meant to clarify, not simply to complicate things.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

If you want to change the natural order, to identify one modifier as being the most important, then place that one first and follow it with a comm.

That's not an optimal duty station for a commissioned officer! 'D

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

'young looking', modifies the noun, 'woman'.


People know what "young looking woman" means so, per the CMOS, the hyphen isn't needed.

But "young" isn't modifying "woman." She's not a young woman. She just looks young. So "young" actually modifies the adjective "looking" (not that "looking woman" makes sense by itself). Adverbs modify adjectives. So it would be:

"youngly looking woman."

YUCK

Hyphenate "young-looking."

robberhands
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

But "young" isn't modifying "woman." She's not a young woman. She just looks young. So "young" actually modifies the adjective "looking" (not that "looking woman" makes sense by itself). Adverbs modify adjectives. So it would be:

"youngly looking woman."

YUCK

Hyphenate "young-looking."

You're walking on a path leading to insanity. Stop, before you drop off the cliff.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@robberhands

When the hung black man began fucking the slightly-built blond man in the ass, the reaction of the women in the audience was split 50/50. Half turned away in disgust while the other half watched with riveted fascination. My attention was drawn to a young, looking woman with short-cropped fiery red hair and green eyes. ;)

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
red61544

@Crumbly Writer

Quick hyphenation question

I'm always amazed that a "quick hyphenation question" receives 61 responses. I wonder how many would be required to answer an "extended hyphenation question"?

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

When the hung black man began fucking the slightly-built blond man in the ass, the reaction of the women in the audience was split 50/50. Half turned away in disgust while the other half watched with riveted fascination. My attention was drawn to a young, looking woman with short-cropped fiery red hair and green eyes.

I really like your example, although I would suggest an even more confusing use of commas and hyphen:

When the hung-black man began fucking the slightly built-blond man in the ass, the reaction of the women in the audience was split 50/50. Half-turned away in disgust while the other half-watched with riveted fascination. My attention was drawn to a young, looking-woman with short cropped-fiery red hair and green eyes.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

But "young" isn't modifying "woman." She's not a young woman. She just looks young. So "young" actually modifies the adjective "looking" (not that "looking woman" makes sense by itself). Adverbs modify adjectives.

Based on what Ross said, "young" does modify "looking", but "young looking" also modifies "woman". So in the ultimate scheme of things, the combined term takes precedence, so it would be "young-looking woman". That's an important distinction whenever you encounter two modifiers.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@red61544


I'm always amazed that a "quick hyphenation question" receives 61 responses. I wonder how many would be required to answer an "extended hyphenation question"?


Now that's an easy one. Just think of "He takes a once-a-day medication." Multiple-word adjectives are treated the same as double-word adjectives.

P.S. As long as we're discussing hyphenation, I just did a quick research into the proper use of "sensei", which is hyphenated (and not capitalized).

American form: Sensei Jones.

Japanese form: Jones-sensei (though in most cases, when addressing Jones directly, the proper form is simply Sensei (capitalized if written in English).

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

When the hung-black man began fucking the slightly built-blond man in the ass, the reaction of the women in the audience was split 50/50. Half-turned away in disgust while the other half-watched with riveted fascination. My attention was drawn to a young, looking-woman with short cropped-fiery red hair and green eyes.

Sorry, but this is the exact situation that hyphenation is meant to avoid. In your example, "half-watched" means that the women (ALL of them) only paid marginal attention to the act, whereas the original implication was that HALF the women watched in rapt fascination while the rest turned away.

Or was that a joking example of how not to do it?

Replies:   robberhands
Geek of Ages

@Crumbly Writer

As someone who studied Japanese for a number of years, I'm going to say that it's wildly inaccurate to claim a particular method of romanization to be the only correct one. Yes, the typical convention when romanizing honorifics (etc) is to add a hyphen before them, but I have absolutely seen it written sans hyphen.

The actual Japanese text does not have hyphens. The Japanese dash has a completely different meaning from English (etc) dash.

And even in Japanese text written with spaces (as it's not required by any means) the honorific does not have a space in front of it.

Also, it probably wouldn't be "Jones". If you're romanizing the Japanese, it'd be "jounzu" I'm pretty sure (depending on how you romanize the long o).

Replies:   red61544
robberhands

@Crumbly Writer

Or was that a joking example of how not to do it?

What did you believe it is? I wrote:

I would suggest an even more confusing use of commas and hyphen

red61544

@Geek of Ages

How do you draw a hyphen in kanji?

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@red61544

You don't.

There is a dash-like character used to express a long vowel in katakana (and sometimes hiragana?), but I forget the name of it offhand.

Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

So "young" actually modifies the adjective "looking"

I suggested above that 'looking' was a noun. It quite probably be an adjective. I don't know.
We both agree that it is being modified by 'young' and the combination of 'young looking' is functioning as an adjective.

Replies:   Geek of Ages
Geek of Ages

@Ross at Play

It's an adjective; you can't use it as the object of a preposition.

Ernest Bywater

@red61544

I'm always amazed that a "quick hyphenation question" receives 61 responses. I wonder how many would be required to answer an "extended hyphenation question"?


600 responses.

Ross at Play

@Geek of Ages

It's an adjective; you can't use it as the object of a preposition.

I strongly suspect you're right but can't get my head around your explanation.
The only thing that is making any sense to me is I cannot see how the nature of one object can be changed by the existence of something else that modifies it.

REP

@Switch Blayde

the adjective "looking" (not that "looking woman" makes sense by itself).


That is why I contend 'looking' is being used in its noun form. As such, 'young' modifies the noun 'looking', and the noun phrase modifies woman.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I'm always amazed that a "quick hyphenation question" receives 61 responses. I wonder how many would be required to answer an "extended hyphenation question"?

600 responses.

So much for my "Quick question". It turned into an extremely long discussion, that continued LONG after I figure out how to resolve the issue at hand. :(

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
AmigaClone

What's really amazing is that it has stayed mostly on topic...

awnlee jawking

@red61544

I'm always amazed that a "quick hyphenation question" receives 61 responses. I wonder how many would be required to answer an "extended hyphenation question"?


Just because the question was quick doesn't mean the answer has to be simple. ;)

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Geek of Ages

It's an adjective; you can't use it as the object of a preposition.


You can't pair it with 'very' either.

I wonder whether it's a cross between a noun and a verb ie a gerund.

AJ

Replies:   Geek of Ages
BlacKnight

@Ross at Play

If analysed in isolation that interpretation is possible.


That it's possible to figure out the intended meaning from context doesn't change that it's a badly written sentence that should be rephrased for clarity. It should read smoothly, without any backing up to figure it out from context required.

It seems like a totally natural thing that someone would say, and they would say it with a distinct pause after 'rubber'.

No, it really doesn't.

I suggested above that 'looking' was a noun. It quite probably be an adjective. I don't know.
We both agree that it is being modified by 'young' and the combination of 'young looking' is functioning as an adjective.

It's a participle, which is a verb acting as an adjective.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

So much for my "Quick question". It turned into an extremely long discussion, that continued LONG after I figure out how to resolve the issue at hand. :(


Don't they always! No need to comment on the obvious about that happening.

Geek of Ages

@awnlee jawking

You can't pair it with 'very' either.


You can with the complete adjectival phrase: "very young-looking".

You cannot, however, use it as a noun: "I gave the book to young-looking"

Ross at Play
Updated:

@BlacKnight

It's a participle, which is a verb acting as an adjective.

It is definitely a participle. They are always available for use as adjectives, but can also function as nouns. I'm not prepared to say which of those two it is in this situation.

It's definitely not a gerund, as AJ suggested above.

@ Me
It seems like a totally natural thing that someone would say, and they would say it with a distinct pause after 'rubber'.
@ You
No, it really doesn't.

My question is: how do you write something when a character chooses to say a list of adjectives in an order other than the natural order?

I can "hear" how someone would say those words in my head. If I'd thought about it more, I would probably have emphasised the word 'rubber' with italics.
If someone says those words - in that order - how do you write their dialogue?

Replies:   helmut_meukel
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

600 responses.


There are currently 81 replies. Doesn't that mean 82 total posts to the thread?

helmut_meukel

@Ross at Play

It's a participle, which is a verb acting as an adjective.

It is definitely a participle. They are always available for use as adjectives,[...]


Now back to "who modifies whom?".
If "looking" is a participle used as adjective and "young" is an adjective, I again argue "looking" is modifying "young".

HM.

Replies:   robberhands
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

There are currently 81 replies. Doesn't that mean 82 total posts to the thread?


probably.

AmigaClone

@Switch Blayde


There are currently 81 replies. Doesn't that mean 82 total posts to the thread?


This is the 85th or so reply. That means that so far this tread has had at least 86 posts.

robberhands
Updated:

@helmut_meukel

If "looking" is a participle used as adjective and "young" is an adjective, I again argue "looking" is modifying "young".

Young-looking is a participle clause. Participial clauses consist of a present participle or past participle, plus modifiers. So I can't agree with you. The adjective 'young' is modifying the present participle 'looking'.

Now I'm one step farther down the path to insanity as well.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

Now I'm one step farther down the path to insanity as well.

I am looking forward to the arrival of you both.

Replies:   robberhands
Ross at Play
Updated:

@BlacKnight

@ Me
It seems like a totally natural thing that someone would say, and they would say it with a distinct pause after 'rubber'.

@ You
No, it really doesn't.

This was a difficult question to research. I tried searches and got dozens of sites explaining the "natural order" of adjective, but none I looked at went on to describe what to do when the author specifically wants a different word order.

I sent questions to some of the sites returned from my searches. The first to reply was Paul Shoebottom from the Frankfurt International School (fis.edu).

This is his reply (with some font changes I made):

Dear Ross,

Adjectives preceding nouns can be coordinate or non-coordinate. Coordinate adjectives are adjectives that could be joined by and. They are normally separated by commas. Example:
​It was a long, loud, tense meeting (We could also say the meeting was long and loud and tense).

Conversely, non-coordinate adjectives (particularly those of shape, color, size, material that describe physical objects) are generally not separated by commas. Example:
a long black dress
a big red rubber ball


We would not normally say: The ball was big and red and rubber.

So much for the theory. In practice of course, it is not always easy to determine if the adjectives should be considered coordinate or non-coordinate.

In the present context, (non-coordinate adjectives) where you have good reasons for subverting the normal adjective order, then the comma seems to be an appropriate device. The Right Word at the Right Time has this to say on page 146:

Some types of adjectives have relatively fixed positions in relation to one another. Sequences of such adjectives need not have commas:
a round red ball.

This sequence exhibits the typical order, in English, of adjectives of shape before adjectives of colour. When such adjectives occur out of order, however, commas are more likely:
a red, round ball

So, I think your objectors are wrong in this case.

Best wishes,

Paul Shoebottom

You are welcome to contact me via the SOL mail system if you would like me to forward copies to you of the emails we exchanged.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

I am looking forward to the arrival of you both.

That's nice to know. I was hoping you are a forward-looking type of guy.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

I was hoping you are a forward-looking type of guy.

Nah! Totally paranoid and constantly watching out for others sneaking up behind me.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

Nah! Totally paranoid and constantly watching out for others sneaking up behind me.

Yeah, that's what I thought but hope springs eternal.

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

If, like me, you believe that punctuation serves two purposes - to disambiguate meaning and to instruct a reader how something should be read (like musical notation), then inserting a comma between adjectives when you want a pause for emphasis makes perfect sense.

In the case of 'a rubber, round red ball' the comma to suggest a pause would confirm the intention of the unnatural order. Would anyone would complain that, having inserted one comma, there should be another between 'round' and 'red'?

PS your 'authority' isn't a minimalist or he'd have changed his last name to 'Sole'

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Would anyone complain ...

Of course they'll damn well complain - here. Don't we delight in that too? Whether the complaints are valid? That's a very different question.

... complain that, having inserted one comma, there should be another between 'round' and 'red'?

My feeling is no. Have you seen anything suggesting that would be required? I would run the words 'big red ball' together if I was saying that - to be clear I had emphasised the first word but not those that followed.

your 'authority' isn't a minimalist or he'd have changed his last name to 'Sole'

He. He.
I gather the guy who answered my email is a school teacher. I have learned since that the 'authority' he quoted, The Right Word at the Right Time, is a publication by the Reader's Digest.

Actually, I was a little surprised by that quote. I would have said the use of a comma was mandatory. They only said 'more likely'. I would still always use one, if only to provide something to show the word order was intentional, not a mistake.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Nah! Totally paranoid and constantly watching out for others sneaking up behind me.

That's what paranoia is for, to keep from being caught. So, as long as no one has stabbed you in the back, you were obvious right to be paranoid.

That's my paranoia story, and I'm sticking with it.

It's akin to: if I'm terrified that the moon is going to crash into the Earth, and it hasn't yet, that's proof that my paranoia is the only thing keeping it aloft!

Switch Blayde

@Ross at Play

We would not normally say: The ball was big and red and rubber.


But you could say that and still be accurate so, using the "and" test, it would require commas. But he made a point about commas not being needed when the correct order of adjectives is used. Until this forum, I never knew there was an order. I think native English speaking people automatically choose the right order.

Switch Blayde

@Switch Blayde

native English speaking people


btw, based on what everyone said here, that should be:

native-English-speaking people

But I would not hyphenate the compound adjective. I think too many hyphens is distracting.

Banadin

When in-doubt, I just sprinkle, comas and hyphen's-through-out. It makes, me look more edumacated.

awnlee jawking

@Banadin

I just sprinkle


Prostate problems? ;)

AJ

Replies:   Banadin
Ross at Play

@Switch Blayde

based on what everyone said here, that should be:
native-English-speaking people

I would write that as 'native English-speaking people', but I would prefer 'native English speakers'.
Dropping 'native' from either of those does not alter the meaning of what is left, so that doesn't need to be hyphenated.
Dropping either 'English' or 'speaking' from 'English-speaking' does alter the meaning of what is left, so that does need to be hyphenated.

However, I'm not prepared to say those tests will work in all situations.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Dropping 'native' from either of those does not alter the meaning of what is left


I would take 'native' to mean people who were brought up in an English-speaking country with English as their primary language.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Until this forum, I never knew there was an order.

You're forgetting the extensive discussion about it we had a while back. As I recall, you had quite a bit to say on the topic.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

btw, based on what everyone said here, that should be:

native-English-speaking people

In this case, I'd hyphenate "English-speaking" but not "native", I guess because native isn't related to English-speaking. You have have non-native English speaking people, but native and English-speaking means something different.

Geek of Ages

@Switch Blayde

Until this forum, I never knew there was an order.


And it's different in every language. It's one of the subtle things that gives away one's non-native-speaker status.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

You're forgetting the extensive discussion about it we had a while back.


That's what I meant by "this forum," not this thread.

Banadin

@awnlee jawking

Good one.

richardshagrin

Quick hyphenation question. Where do you put the hyphen in "quick"? que-ick?

Capt. Zapp

@Banadin

... comas ...


Your stories aren't bad enough to cause comas. Or were you thinking of extreme erotic mental overload causing the comas? :)

Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

que-ick?


Is that the line to the vomitorium?

Crumbly Writer

@Geek of Ages

And it's different in every language. It's one of the subtle things that gives away one's non-native-speaker status.

What's more, it's something that native speakers are completely unaware of, but that new immigrant/speakers are very well versed in. For us native speakers, we don't even consider it, we just know what order to put the words in. It's so automatic we don't have to think about it. For authors, though, sometime we get into these detailed discussions about how to handle numerous 'special cases' which drive us nuts!

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Where do you put the hyphen in "quick"? que-ick?

You put it in before you add the milk and stir it really fast so the hyphens mix in with everything else. (Let's see if our Aussie members have any clue what that means?)

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

Let's see if our Aussie members have any clue what that means?

We drink Quik too.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

We drink Quik too.

Just not in iHops.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Capt. Zapp

@Crumbly Writer

We drink Quik too.

Just not in iHops.


Wouldn't that result in a milkshake after the fact?

Dominions Son

@Ross at Play

We drink Quik too.


Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug!

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