The world of punctuation is in flux, as is every other world we know of. The steady-state model of the universe is gone with the solar wind, and so we are painfully aware that the only constant is change.
That doesn't mean we have to like it. On the whole, making a friend of change is a good approach to life, but, remember, everything in moderation. I, for one, am vexed by the disappearance of the hyphen. It's such a useful little mark. Why is it headed for the linguistic dustbin?
Well, for one thing, the Associated Press says so. The AP Stylebook recently caved to anti-hyphen trends and changed its position, vis-a-vis e-mail. After years of instructing journalists to use the hyphen, they now decree that, from now on, e-mail is email. What's next, AP? "You" becomes "u"? Stop this bus! I want to get off.
Here are a few examples showing the worth of the missing hyphen: A news report (okay, a gossip report) gave us this bit of confusion—"Bristol Palin faced off with an angry bargoer at Saddle Ranch bar and restaurant in West Hollywood Thursday night." Bargoer? I got there eventually, but wouldn't "bar-goer" have been a bit clearer?
This from a blogger: "Not a Whole Foods fan here, by the way. It reminds me too much of food coops. I have hated food coops since circa 1969." I know what chicken coops are, but food coops are a mystery. Food co-ops, on the other hand, I'm aware of. I just can't face that much produce being thrust at me each week.
I ran across a column with this headline—"Reinter the death tax." That one took a few more blinks before my brain said, "Oh, re-inter. I get it."
Readers, unite. The hyphen is our friend. Let's show it some love.