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Your answers, please!

I would like to know whether AAAA-BBBB is considered one word (as MS Word and some writing contests assert) or two (as Scrivener and other contests decree) and so, could you all please fill in this poll?

Poll #1523481 Is "aaaa-bbbb" one hyphenated word or two words, hyphenated?

Is "aaaa-bbbb" one word or two?

One word, as MS Word would count it.
Two, as Scrivener would count it.
Other. See my comment below.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 9th, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
I have to say, you're taking the upcoming scrabble tournament way too seriously ;)
Feb. 9th, 2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
I say it's one word. IMO, the point of placing a hyphen is to create one word out of two, by "permanently" linking them together.
Feb. 9th, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
For the record, Scrivener doesn't "decree" anything. It just uses the Apple text system's notion of what a word is. Software has no opinion on this either way, and in fact there is no clear-cut-answer to this question, so software cannot know either way. For instance, "co-operation" is obviously one word. "Up-to-date", "long-time", "mother-in-law", "French-speaking", "editor-in-chief", "forget-me-not", "starry-eyed" and "heavy-handed" are less clear-cut (there's another one) and open to debate. "Forget-me-not" is probably best counted as a single word, but compound verbs are more complicated and less obvious. Regardless of whether words with hyphens are counted as a single word or not, though, you will find that all software gives different slightly word counts for the same text. This is just because language is so fluid and ever-changing, so there is no single algorithm that can tell a program that a block of text matching such-and-such (one word or three?) set of rules is definitely a single word or not. Apple clearly took the approach that hyphenated words should be counted individually, Microsoft determined that they should be counted as one.
So, I haven't voted, as I have no opinion either way other than, "It depends!"
All the best,
(Scrivener developer)
Feb. 10th, 2010 11:49 pm (UTC)
+1 ;-) word processors will have to pick one method or another because otherwise you'd have to have a huge complex listing of which hyphenated words to count as single words and which as multi-word phrases - but the truth would be some are one and some are two or three. I'd say it's one when you can't pick the words apart and re-arrange them into a phrase without hypens (easily understood - something that can be understood easily vs co-operation).
Feb. 10th, 2010 01:50 pm (UTC)
I'm with Keith: they're both wrong (by forcing all hyphenated word-groups one way only, and ignoring that some examples can't be unambiguously classified at all).

Which doesn't help if your aim is to count something-unambiguously-if-arbitrarily-defined-as-words, so in practice they're actually both useful, and which to use presumably depends on to what purpose the entities-labelled-as-words are being counted.
Feb. 10th, 2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
I always thought it was called a hyphenated word, which makes it one word.
Feb. 10th, 2010 11:52 pm (UTC)
there's hyphenated words and hyphenated phrases... frequently-hyphenated phrases are originally two words ;-)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


Nat S Ford
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