Final Word from Wednesday, July 20, 2005





It's a steadfast rule in English grammar, if there are any steadfast rules in English grammar these days, that a one-syllable word can't be hyphenated. There's no excuse, then, when the Wall Street Journal hyphenates the word "Prague." It's a one-syllable word and shouldn't be chopped up, but it inevitably comes out at the end of a line as "Pra- gue." Some Microsoft products have the same defect. It's not a problem in Czech, because "Praha" has two syllables. In English, though, the discrimination is obvious. There are four other one-syllable capitals in the world, but no one dares to hyphenate Bern, Minsk or Rome (Seoul, the fourth, is confusing and does get the occasional hack). Czechs already went through one ugly hyphen war (some Slovaks wanted the country to be called Czecho-Slovakia), and they certainly can't afford to take on Microsoft. But it's time Bill Gates and everyone else gave Prague equal hyphen rights.[Czech Republic hyphenation hyphenated Switzerland Belarus Italy South Korea Microsoft Word]

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