Jay Z drops it, Martha Lane Fox added it: A salute to the humble hyphen
The poor hyphen. With the news last week that rapper Jay-Z was dropping the hyphen from his name to become simply Jay Z, it becomes the latest diacritical mark to come under sustained pressure from modern usage. We’ve not been this upset since Waterstones boss James Daunt ditched the book chain’s apostrophe.
Jay Z’s lack of hyphen follows a trend led by – what else? – the digital revolution of dropping extraneous grammar in order to make words as efficient as possible. A 2007 version of the shorter Oxford English Dictionary squeezed 16,000 hyphenated words such as ice-cream and bumble-bee to icecream and bumblebee. Conversely, other compound nouns such as “test-tube” preceded Jay Z’s lead and became “test tube”. Before the non-adjectival hyphen becomes a historical relic (“To-day” anyone?), Trending wanted to pay tribute to some of the finest hyphens of all time. Sorry, the all-time greatest hyphens (double-barrel names don’t count).
Christened Thomas Terry Hoar Stevens, Terry-Thomas switched his forenames around working in vaudeville and music between the wars. He later conjoined them with a hyphen that he likened to “the gap in his teeth”. For the sake of distinctiveness, it’s also a good result for the second Google result for “Terry-Thomas”: Terry Thomas Estate Agents, Carmarthen.
Attorney-General (in Hansard)
On the official website of Attorney General Dominic Grieve, his job title is two words. Likewise, on his office door there is no hyphen. Yet in Hansard, the parliamentary records, a hyphen is not only used for Attorney-General but is compulsory. Though not in Canada – where its Hansard style guide strictly forbids it. All hail the sturdy British Hansard hyphen! See also: Hansards’ solicitor-general; advocate-general
Not that’d we’d harangue the likes of Ghostface Killah and Masta Killa about their grammar choices, but the rap ensemble’s hyphen is interesting because it’s an add-in. Or add in. Whatever. Named for the kung fu movie Shaolin and Wu Tang, the group added a hyphen that – given that Wu Tang is a sword-fighting style – actually adds a little clarity for the reader. So, a hearty “well done” RZA and co.
Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho
We said names don’t count, but the Lastminute founder’s does as her hyphen was only added when she was admitted to the House of Lords. The hyphenation was a nod to naming conventions of peers and the fact that Martha Lane Fox’s great aunt Felicity Lane-Fox was given a peerage in 1981 and traded as Baroness Lane-Fox of Bramham.
There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turningTV
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 All Blacks Aaron Cruden misses New Zealand flight after drinking session, has brilliant excuse
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': TV reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 Alicia Keys leaks nude photo 'to create a kinder and more peaceful world'
- 5 Clothes store Joy angers mental health campaigners with Twitter exchange on bipolar disorders
Downton Abbey fans outraged at Kindle sponsorship adverts
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since TV series ended in 2004
Downton Abbey series 5, episode 1, ITV, review: There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning
New Tricks: Dennis Waterman to leave drama after a decade of crime-solving
Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God