Hyphen-nation and the underdog


My mate asked me to read through some text for his website. I duly obliged, and for some unknown reason, there were a plethora of hyphens missing. AWOL. Gone. And by ‘plethora’ I mean a feckin’ shedload.

I highlighted each one, along with other small suggestions for readability and grammar. This morning, he emailed me this cartoon. Touché.

I sent it on to my wife, and after a short conversation, we came to the (rather obvious) conclusion that we all write like we think. My sentences can be long and rambling, with a particular fondness for semi-colons (I always root for the underdog*). ‘Just seems to suit the way I think, whereas S uses shorter sentences and lots of brackets.

Anyway, it’s Friday, so enjoy the end of the working week, and more to the point, enjoy whatever you have planned for the weekend. It’s been an odd week here with not a lot of training to show for it, bar a few gym sessions.

Onwards and upwards!

P.S. Speaking of underdog, that has a great bit of history. Most folks don’t think about the meaning of the word, and if prodded, would probably suggest, quite sensibly, that the dog refers to an animal, and probably we are talking about dog fighting, which was once a popular yet grisly pastime. (‘Dog fighting’ appears as one word, with a hyphen, and two words… make your own mind up on that one!).

Well, another hard station was woodwork in the old days, before saw mills. In the very old days, especially for ship-building, long planks were made by cleaving timber with axes and wedges. Tree trunks were split down their length, in halves, then split again into quarters, and again until the woodworker ended up with a wedge-shaped plank (in cross-section) which was then cleaned with an axe. Tough work, but the resulting plank was very strong. Once saws, and particularly large pit saws, came into fashion, planks were made by rolling the logs over a pit, and two workers sawed away; one on top, one on the bottom. In woodworking, dogs are usually some simple device to clamp timber in place. In pit-sawing, the guy on top became known as the ‘top dog’, and the guy underneath was the ‘under dog’. The top dog had a much better position: in the fresh air, allowing gravity to do a lot of the work, and not getting sawdust in his eyes and lungs on every stroke. It’s safe to say the apprentice was chucked in the hole every time!

I think that’s a much better explanation.

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