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Electric Blue

awnlee_jawking

I just encountered a modern-day ambiguity. I wanted to describe a character as driving a car that was a vivid shade of blue. Unfortunately nowadays 'electric blue car' can have two interpretations.

If my muse insists on that shade, should I hyphenate 'electric-blue' or can I rely on readers to discern the correct meaning from the order of adjectives? ;)

AJ

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee_jawking

If my muse insists on that shade, should I hyphenate 'electric-blue' or can I rely on readers to discern the correct meaning from the order of adjectives? ;)


I'd hyphenate it, because you're making a compound word, so the hyphen is needed.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
robberhands

@awnlee_jawking

You can always rely on your readers to be lenient and most understanding; none of them would ever gleefully point out a mistake.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

Ouch, that wasn't a reason I was expecting. Now you've got me worrying about the character wearing a 'forest green dress'.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

Actually I think I'm lucky. I get very little feedback, but for my current WIP in particular, readers have been extremely helpful in pointing out typos.

AJ

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

The whole compound word situation word situation is complex, and it's very hard to say what is what, because they vary with the types of words being used. I find it best to make it a hyphenated compound word when there's a chance it may be confusing. When there's no risk of confusion then you can go either way without any concerns.

BTW if I bought a new Tesla in a bright shade of blue I'd call it a blue electric car, and might even go with blue electric-car for the compound word issue.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Dominions Son

@awnlee_jawking

I just encountered a modern-day ambiguity. I wanted to describe a character as driving a car that was a vivid shade of blue. Unfortunately nowadays 'electric blue car' can have two interpretations.


Shouldn't the alternative interpretation you are thinking of be a blue electric car, rather than an electric blue car?

helmut_meukel
Updated:

@Dominions Son

I faintly remember – about 45 years ago – "Electric Blue" as a porno production company. AJ is this the second interpretation you had in mind, or came I up with a third one?

Using todays criteria it was – IIRC – soft porn.

HM.

Ernest Bywater

@helmut_meukel

I faintly remember – about 45 years ago – "Electric Blue" as a porno production company.


before that it was a bright metalic blue paint for cars and bikes.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

before that it was a bright metalic blue paint for cars and bikes.


Still is. My 2015 Ford F150 is Electric Blue.

Dominions Son

@helmut_meukel

I faintly remember – about 45 years ago – "Electric Blue" as a porno production company. AJ is this the second interpretation you had in mind, or came I up with a third one?


That seems highly unlikely when used as an adjective for car.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

Hence my point about order of adjectives, not that I can remember it when I need it :(

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

Unless it's a company car.

"Who owns that car?"

"It's an Electric Blue car."

"But it's white!"

(Allegedly white was the most popular car colour purchased in the UK last year, although locally I'm convinced it was black)

AJ

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

(Allegedly white was the most popular car colour purchased in the UK last year, although locally I'm convinced it was black)


Isn't white the major colour for vans driven by idiots in the UK?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

Allegedly white was the most popular car colour purchased in the UK last year, although locally I'm convinced it was black


Black and white are supposedly the most popular colors for cars in the US. I'm not a fan of either. You'd have to wash a white car almost daily and I live in a state where road salt is used. A black car covered in white residue looks awful, and its not easy to wash a car in freezing weather.

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

'White Van Man' ;)

Statistics show that white van man is actually quite a safe driver, although not very considerate.

The scariest are foreign lorry drivers. They seem oblivious to road height and weight restrictions and, driving on motorways, they often pull out blind since their mirrors are on the wrong side.

AJ

Replies:   sejintenej
REP

@awnlee jawking

Now you've got me worrying about the character wearing a 'forest green dress'.


Why? If Forest Green or Electric Blue are names assigned to a shade of green or blue, then you shouldn't hyphenate them.

Now if you are creating the name, then as EB says hyphenate them.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@awnlee jawking

Ouch, that wasn't a reason I was expecting. Now you've got me worrying about the character wearing a 'forest green dress'.

IMHO, thou mayest write electric-blue car, forest-green dress, and blush-red face - or thou mayest be wrong. :-)
Also, while making that kind of mistake may be forgivable, in my opinion, putting the colours in capitals would be an unforgivable sin.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

The whole compound word situation word situation is complex, and it's very hard to say what is what, because they vary with the types of words being used. I find it best to make it a hyphenated compound word when there's a chance it may be confusing. When there's no risk of confusion then you can go either way without any concerns.

BTW if I bought a new Tesla in a bright shade of blue I'd call it a blue electric car, and might even go with blue electric-car for the compound word issue.

AJ, this explanation by EB is spot on.

Note that the "standard order" would be electric before blue, so blue electric car should suffice, technically: because the order is wrong this should be interpreted as an adjective, blue, modifying a noun phrase, electric car.
But confusion by readers still seems possible. As EB noted, blue electric-car, is not wrong, but I don't really like it. My solution would be using a comma to show the adjectives are not connected. Either of these is unambiguous: 'electric, blue car' or 'blue, electric car'.

But multi-word colours before nouns? I always hyphenate those. I may use more hyphens than most here, but it's really not that many, and I see occasional extra hyphens as an insignificant burden on readers compared to the benefits of using a consistent style which automatically eliminates almost all potential ambiguities.

Ross at Play

@Dominions Son

Black and white are supposedly the most popular colors for cars in the US.

White cars are involved in less accidents than black and dark-blue cars. They can are more easily seen at night.
Green can be pretty dangerous too if driven where there is a lot of green in the environment.
Red is the worst - but that's entirely because of the character of those who buy red cars.
Orange is probably the safest, but then others are likely to think your character is hostile if you see you in an orange car.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin

@Ross at Play

hyphens

Words aren't virgins, they lost their hyphens long ago.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@richardshagrin

Words aren't virgins, they lost their hyphens long ago.

And the flock responded, "Haymen."

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

But multi-word colours before nouns? I always hyphenate those. I may use more hyphens than most here, but it's really not that many, and I see occasional extra hyphens as an insignificant burden on readers compared to the benefits of using a consistent style which automatically eliminates almost all potential ambiguities.

The key with hyphenation is that you always hyphenate multi-word adjectives, so you'd have "lanky-tall blond" or "slow-assed motorcycle". Thus it's entirely fitting to label your car "electric-blue", as long as it pair the description with a noun/subject/object, but given the likelihood of confusion, I'd use it even if you don't (ex: "I couldn't get that shade of electric-blue out of my mind.")

Another alternative is to use "neon blue" or "metallic blue" instead. I haven't heard anyone refer to "electric blue" since the 60s and 70s.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Red is the worst - but that's entirely because of the character of those who buy red cars.
Orange is probably the safest, but then others are likely to think your character is hostile if you see you in an orange car.

Actually, statistically, yellow cars are the safest because the colors stand out, and there aren't that many of them.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

Actually, statistically, yellow cars are the safest because the colors stand out, and there aren't that many of them.

Yeah. I kind of knew they were safer than orange, because of visibility ... I just couldn't think of anything sarcastic to say about the colour yellow.

Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

The key with hyphenation is that you always hyphenate multi-word adjectives, so you'd have "lanky-tall blond" or "slow-assed motorcycle".

I agree, but it is difficult to explain to others why it's worth bothering about.
It took me a while to come to the conclusion it's easier to do it routinely than to think every time about whether something has some potential ambiguity.
The current one from AJ is an example of how easy they are to miss. I needed a double-take after I first read AJ's comment that 'electric blue car' was potentially ambiguous. Finally it dawned on me that 'electric car' has an entirely different meaning of its own. If I wasn't routinely using hyphesn in things like 'electric-blue car', because 'electric blue' is a compound adjective, that one would have slipped under my guard.
I just find it easier, and safer. There really aren't enough of them be bothered if they cause some sort of burden on readers. I don't even think they do. When used consistently, my impression is they assist me to comprehend what I read faster.

KinkyWinks

@awnlee_jawking

I would describe the color once to make sure it was understood and then call the car "Ole Blue" or just "Blue"

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Yeah. I kind of knew they were safer than orange, because of visibility ... I just couldn't think of anything sarcastic to say about the colour yellow.


I thought studies showed yellow and similar colours like orange were pretty much on a par. The show up well against blue/grey/black road surfaces and are more distinct than most colours in thick fog too.

In the UK, yellow cars used to be a lot more popular than they are nowadays because it was the bog-standard colour for small Fiats.

AJ

Replies:   Switch Blayde
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

If the blue car is depressed, as well as being powered by electricity, it could be a blue electric blue electric car ;)

AJ

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

blue electric blue electric car ;)

UGH! A blue electric-blue electric car ;)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

Despite the 'order of adjectives' rules, I have the impression that the order can be adjusted to accommodate importance.

In the motor trade, it's something of a cliche that men choose cars based on 0-60 times (or prancing horses under the bonnet), but women choose them on colour.

So a girl might say, "But Daddy, it must be a BLUE car! I'd also prefer electric because of the cheaper tax, so I'm looking for an electric blue car."

AJ

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

Despite the 'order of adjectives' rules, I have the impression that the order can be adjusted to accommodate importance.

Yes and but, as Sir Humphrey Appleby might reply.
The "order" is not fixed; if it sounds okay it is the "correct" order. If I recall correctly, the theory would assess 'big bad wolf' as being in the wrong order?
But also, you may always show that you have chosen the order of adjectives, most important first, by separating them with commas.

helmut_meukel

@Ross at Play

Yeah. I kind of knew they were safer than orange, because of visibility ... I just couldn't think of anything sarcastic to say about the colour yellow.


Oh, I thought they are safer because everyone knows about those reckless cab drivers and drives cautiously when seeing a yellow car. ;-)

HM.

Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

If the blue car is depressed, as well as being powered by electricity, it could be a blue electric blue electric car ;)


Of course, the sound system in it only plays the blues.

Switch Blayde

@awnlee jawking

In the UK, yellow cars used to be a lot more popular than they are nowadays because it was the bog-standard colour for small Fiats


NYC taxis

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Another alternative is to use "neon blue" or "metallic blue" instead. I haven't heard anyone refer to "electric blue" since the 60s and 70s.


My 2015 F150 is officially per Ford electric blue.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Yeah. I kind of knew they were safer than orange, because of visibility ... I just couldn't think of anything sarcastic to say about the colour yellow.

How about: Yellow? Are you serious?

We had a yellow car once, it felt like we were driving a banana every time we went anywhere, and everyone noticed whenever you did something stupid.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

We had a yellow car once, it felt like we were driving a banana every time we went anywhere, and everyone noticed whenever you did something stupid.


I had an uncle who had an old Chevy Suburban that was yellow. It wasn't quite the right shade, but it felt like riding in a school bus.

JohnBobMead

@Dominions Son

Dad bought an Oldsmobile atationwagon circa 1965, which was fire engine red.

Now, you have to understand that his father had been the fire chief of the Oregon City Fire Department when dad was in high school, and a number of his relatives were also active in the fire department; dad actually lived at the fire atation with his father.

Anyway, the first time he went up to Oregon City to visit relatives, they looked at the stationwagon, and the comment was, "Well, it's the right color, but where are the ladders?"

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

But electric blue is a girlie colour ... ;)

AJ

Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

But electric blue is a girlie colour

When's the engagement party, Mr OP?

robberhands

@awnlee jawking

But electric blue is a girlie colour ... ;)

Electric-blue is so yesterday, darling. It was quite popular around 2014 and that's ancient history in fashion.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

My car isn't too dissimilar to electric-blue in colour. It's nice to know that for one year of my life, I was close to being trendy ;)

AJ

REP

@robberhands

that's ancient history in fashion.


Somehow, I doubt those of us here in the Forum are concerned with being 'in fashion". :)

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@REP

Somehow, I doubt those of us here in the Forum are concerned with being 'in fashion". :)

Not for themselves but AJ seems to be effusive about the styling of the prom queen in his story.

REP

@robberhands

Not for themselves but AJ seems to be effusive about the styling of the prom queen in his story.


Perhaps it is a writer thing rather than a personal fetish.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@REP

Perhaps it is a writer thing rather than a personal fetish.

Why would I care for his reasons? He seems to have fun with it.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

It's another step in the road towards the denouement ;)

AJ

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

My story seems to have inspired EB too, although his initial thought was for someone else to write up his particular twist.

AJ

KimLittle

My mind immediately ran through the lyrics of seminal 80s Australian band Icehouse and their song Electric Blue.

sejintenej

@awnlee jawking

Statistics show that white van man is actually quite a safe driver, although not very considerate.

There is one such who overtakes me in a 30mph limit (and I have a speed controller set to that) in a series of blind bends at 6am every morning. Safe? he has to be the exception

The scariest are foreign lorry drivers. They seem oblivious to road height and weight restrictions and, driving on motorways, they often pull out blind since their mirrors are on the wrong side.

One tried to run me off the motorway when he decided that when he was level he had passed me! To me the worst by far are Bel+++++s towing caravans. they don't know where the indicators are ......
Another problem we have is lorry drivers who don't speak English nor the language of the country where their lorry is registered and want to know how to get somewhere.

sejintenej

@awnlee_jawking

I wanted to describe a character as driving a car that was a vivid shade of blue.

Try forgetting to try to get a specific word. When the idea surfaces turn the wording around to describe the person getting passing / approaching /getting into / out of the car which is the "most vivid/ horrible / ugly / fluorescent .....shade of blue". (Or even just write that the .... car was at the kerbside? Thereafter you don't need an adjective other than blue because you have already described it

doctor_wing_nut

@awnlee_jawking

If my muse insists on that shade, should I hyphenate 'electric-blue' or can I rely on readers to discern the correct meaning from the order of adjectives? ;)


I think the simplest solution has already been posted, inadvertently. If you capitalize The E and B, so it reads 'Electric Blue car', the link should be obvious.

Some will still screw it up, but that's the Beauty of SOL, right?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I had an uncle who had an old Chevy Suburban that was yellow. It wasn't quite the right shade, but it felt like riding in a school bus.

The car I learned to drive in was a school bus. Back in those days, they allowed students to drive the school bus (in high school), and of course, they'd turn onto the old dirt lane roads and let their friends drive it. They 'bent' the speed controllers since you couldn't drive a school bus faster than 35, yet it was almost miles, one way, to school. I can still remember the sound of the gears screaming every time someone shifted into the wrong gear.

Crumbly Writer

@robberhands

Electric-blue is so yesterday, darling. It was quite popular around 2014 and that's ancient history in fashion.

You're dating yourself, kiddie. Electric blue was first introduced back in the sixties or early seventies, and hardly 'became' popular in 2014. The fact that anyone remembers it today is a testament to its longevity.

Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

@robberhands
Electric-blue is so yesterday, darling. It was quite popular around 2014 and that's ancient history in fashion.

@Crumbly Writer
You're dating yourself, kiddie. Electric blue was first introduced back in the sixties or early seventies, and hardly 'became' popular in 2014. The fact that anyone remembers it today is a testament to its longevity.

Hmm? It's all in the delivery.

I know robberhands was joking. I can "hear" his post being said with an overtly gay affectation.

Were you joking? I'd be confident you were if 'You're dating yourself, kiddie' had been placed at the end, but the way your post is framed makes it impossible to NOT interpret everything after that as being intended seriously.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Were you joking? I'd be confident you were if 'You're dating yourself, kiddie' had been placed at the end, but the way your post is framed makes it impossible to NOT interpret everything after that as being intended seriously.

And you're the one who rants about not caring whether people 'get' your jokes or not. If I respond to a joke, with another joke, why would you assume it's anything but a joke? The rest of my comment capitalizing on his joke about its not being popular anymore.

It just goes to show, forums are NOT the place for telling jokes!

richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

forums


Maybe this is an againstum?

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

And you're the one who rants about not caring whether people 'get' your jokes or not.

You were the only one ranting - not me. You were the one who started saying I should "change my style" because I get the "delivery wrong", and claiming a "majority" often cannot tell when something I post is intended as a joke.
I was commenting on your delivery this time, not objecting to the attempt at humour - or even saying the attempt failed.
I said I would have been confident "You're dating yourself, kiddie" was a joke - if you'd left it there. Once the punchline has been said, the joke is over. What made it confusing was your continuation on with other mundane, trivial facts.
You could have put what followed in a new paragraph. Even that would have been enough to make it clear that you had moved on to something different, rather than the way you framed it which made it appear as if what followed was a continuation of the joke.
I just object when you claim others cannot spot when I'm making a joke - and only a joke. When I say I am happy if some people don't notice my jokes, I am only talking about rare occasions when I can frame something that has a literal meaning some readers will think was my only intention, but that others will see it can also be interpreted in a different way that contains the joke.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ross at Play
Updated:

@richardshagrin

Maybe this is an againstum?

Or a foreum? Gotta watch out or the joke police might hit you in the head with a golf ball.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

The fact that anyone remembers it today is a testament to its longevity.


My 2015 Ford F150 is officially Electric Blue.

Replies:   robberhands
Ross at Play

@Crumbly Writer

If I respond to a joke, with another joke, why would you assume it's anything but a joke?

I came back from my daily walk for coffee and I want to discuss what when wrong in your post.

I stress, I want to consider it as an example, and not to belabour a point I've already made.

You do not take great care to ensure your posts here say precisely what you mean. That's fine; you are busy; it rarely takes much effort to fathom the drift of your posts.

Without identifying the culprit - if you get my drift? - I'd like to explain how this post someone made above suffers from a common technical problem with writing that doesn't exist when the same words are spoken: when writing you must find some way for words and punctuation to do all the work necessary.

You're dating yourself, kiddie. Electric blue was first introduced back in the sixties or early seventies, and hardly 'became' popular in 2014. The fact that anyone remembers it today is a testament to its longevity.

When I first read up the the word 'kiddie', I knew it was a joke OR the first part of a joke. If I'd taken a moment to focus on the word 'kiddie', I expect I'd have noticed it was referring to the quoted, "2014 and that's ancient history in fashion." That works for me as a successful joke!

However, my attention was drawn away from the punchline of the joke, the word 'kiddie', by another sentence following immediately after it. My expectation as a reader was this continuation would expand on or clarify the first part of a still-incomplete joke. By the end of a lengthy explanation of facts I found tedious I had no idea what the previous statement was intended to mean.

I needed something to indicate I should finish processing the current idea before moving on to the next. What happened was that I tried to hold that thought in my memory while assimilating additional information needed to complete the idea. The inevitable result was some degree of confusion.

It would not have taken much to prevent that. Starting what followed on a new line would certainly be enough. Even an exclamation point after 'kiddie' would have alerted me to the fact that word was important.

robberhands

@Dominions Son

My 2015 Ford F150 is officially Electric Blue.

As I've said, back in 2014 electric blue was quite popular in fashion, darling. Car manufacturers are just a bit slow on the up-take. Today, your car needs a new paint-job if you want to be viewed as a fashionista. In your case I'd recomment Little-Boy-Blue.

Ross at Play

@robberhands

In your case I'd recommend Little-Boy-Blue.

Miaow! :-)

Dominions Son

@robberhands

Today, your car needs a new paint-job if you want to be viewed as a fashionista. In your case I'd recomment Little-Boy-Blue.


Actually, the same shade of blue is available on the 2018 F150, only now they are calling it lighting blue instead of electric blue.

robberhands

@Dominions Son

Actually, the same shade of blue is available on the 2018 F150,...

I bet, when you torture and threaten your hairdresser long enough, big flicked hair with a long feather cut is also still available. You could look like Farrah Fawcett in the seventies; maybe add a beard like Barry Gibb, to appear more manly.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

You could look like Farrah Fawcett in the seventies

A strange thing happened when I looked at ngrams.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands
Updated:

@Ross at Play

A strange thing happened when I looked at ngrams.

Ngrams is always a good source searching for something strange.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

something strange

Less strange if you change smoothing to 0 for such a short time span.

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@Ross at Play

I 'stated' the last fashion-high for electric-blue was in 2014. How much do you think a statistic up to no more than 2008 will dazzle me?

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee jawking

@doctor_wing_nut

I went with 'electric-blue', as appears in the latest chapter of my WIP. But thanks for your contribution.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

Since more-and-more 'British' cars are being made in China, perhaps the next trend will be SongSung Blue.

AJ

Replies:   Ross at Play
awnlee_jawking

@Dominions Son

lighting blue


That doesn't make sense to me. Did you mean 'lightning blue'?

AJ

Replies:   robberhands
robberhands

@awnlee_jawking

That doesn't make sense to me. Did you mean 'lightning blue'?

When was DS ever accused of making sense?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Ross at Play

@robberhands

I 'stated' the last fashion-high for electric-blue was in 2014. How much do you think a statistic up to no more than 2008 will dazzle me?

Okay. It was CW, not you, who first suggested it was from the 60s and 70s. I lost track of that when you mentioned Farrah Fawcett.

Replies:   robberhands
Ross at Play

@awnlee jawking

more-and-more 'British' cars

I think that's the first time I've ever seen anyone hyphenate a compound determiner before a noun.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
robberhands

@Ross at Play

I lost track of that when you mentioned Farrah Fawcett.

The time, Farrah Fawcett was a good reason to lose your track is also long gone.

awnlee jawking

@robberhands

When was DS ever accused of making sense?


I'm pretty sure I've at least come close to it on several occasions. Having a scientific bent, I'm a fan of the Socratic Method.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

I think that's the first time I've ever seen anyone hyphenate a compound determiner before a noun.


I'm ahead of the curve!

Hyphenation is the logical next stage in its evolution. To be followed, at length, by concatenation ie moreandmore.

AJ

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

You were the only one ranting - not me. You were the one who started saying I should "change my style" because I get the "delivery wrong", and claiming a "majority" often cannot tell when something I post is intended as a joke.

Sorry, but I never suggest that you should change. I get why you enjoy telling your jokes the way you do. Instead, I was using you as an example on why it's not a good idea to use sarcasm unless you're very adept at it, as it's a quagmire than entraps even most experts. It's incredibly tricky. It can be done, and done very well, but it's difficult to pull off, even in the best of times.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I was using you as an example

Merry Xmas, CW.

You are right that sarcasm can be especially tricky. Everyone will misfire at times and the audience really matters.
I'm grateful to have somewhere to practise where the consequences of my failures are not too catastrophic.

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