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In the old days, we used to ask the following question a lot: "One word? Two words? Hyphenated?" With astonishing speed, the third alternative is just disappearing, and I have heard that people with double-barrelled names are simply unable to get the concept across these days, because so few people on the other end of a telephone know what the hyphen is.

Truss, Eats, Shoots and Leaves -- Jerz: EL150 (Intro to Literary Study)

In the olden days!?! When did this happen? I still have to ask myself all three alternatives. I realize a lot of the spellings have changed--in terms of whether or not a space is included--but I never realized that the hyphen was beginning to (for the lack of a better term) go extinct. That really surprised me when I read this. Though I have to say the fact that people can't understand the concept was an even bigger shock. It really isn't that hard of a concept to grasp. The only difficult thing about it is knowing which words require it and which ones don't--a spell-checker will help with some words; other words just depend on the exact meaning you want to get across. So, in a sense, the aggravation caused by the hyphen really isn't all that different from the aggravation caused by many of the other punctuation marks.


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