October 26, 2009KR BlogKR

Short Takes

Three days after National Punctuation Day, William Safire, the writer for NY Times weekly “On Language” column, passed away. The significance of this conveniently-contrived-yet-potentially-symbolic temporal proximity occurred to me today, as I stumbled upon Safire’s article regarding hyphenation.

Hyphens are, no doubt, a strange breed. According to “Motivated Grammar” Blog, punctuation originated from our need for oral pauses, yet hyphens contribute little in this regard. As to whether or not they’re “required,” Safire provides the musings:

On a fresh coinage, use a hyphen to help the reader with unfamiliar locution; after a while, drop it. Decide on what looks and feels right and then stick with it… I prefer non-U to nonU… I don’t consider my style nonnegotiable…

So, mark your calendars for next year: Punctuation Day is set-in-stone for September 24th.

I may be delayed in acknowledging these September events, yet both remain worthy of mention here and now. In their own distinct ways, both urge us to consider it: the sway of the breath between.