From: Asmus Freytag (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Nov 06 2007 - 02:09:05 CST
On 11/6/2007 12:22 AM, John Hudson wrote:
> Asmus wrote:
>> Because of the way compound words work, they do require that the
>> reader mentally break (most of) them apart when reading and every
>> subtle bit of help from typography is welcome in that task. In
>> addition, there are some ambiguities that can be introduced in the
>> process, where moving the intra-word splits changes the meaning.
>> Again, having some help in the typography makes text more readable.
> If the compound words are so difficult to read and introduce
> ambiguities, such that readers must seek 'every subtle bit of help
> from typography' in order to decipher them, wouldn't it make sense to
> write them with hyphens or other less subtle typographic aids?
Much of this may well become moot. Due to the pressure from
inexpertly(?) designed spell checkers (and inept reformers) the number
of cases where Germans nowadays are writing apart words that used to be
written together is on the rise - this is not a panacea, since it can
distort (or render ambiguous) the intended meaning in not so subtle ways
(details of how that works would lead us completely into OT land).
Just as English writers don't feel compelled to simplify orthography so
that not only night, but also knight might become "nite", but instead
chose to retain (or at times reintroduce) cumbersome archaic spellings
to be able to give (not so subtle) hints to the reader, so do other
languages retain orthographic (or typographic) elements that might seem
archaic and unmotivated to an outsider.
PS: BTW: I don't know how you use English, but "must seek" is not a
paraphrase of "is welcome" I would have chosen. To me, well-designed
typography is all about giving support to the reader, while staying
unobtrusively in the background. Hyphens, or even less subtle means than
that would somehow not qualify in my view. ;-)
This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Nov 06 2007 - 03:10:55 CST