Hyphen: twenty thousand word

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Rex, May 12, 2010.

  1. Rex

    Rex Senior Member

    AUSTRALIA: English
    In a phrase like "a twenty thousand word thesis," should there be a hyphen between any of these words?
     
  2. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Adelaide
    Australia English
    In my dialect I would write twenty-thousand-word thesis.
     
  3. RabbitEggs Junior Member

    Canada
    English - Canadian
    I would write it as "twenty thousand word thesis."
     
  4. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    If you look up hyphen in the Dictionary and Thread Title Search box at the top of this page and scroll down, you see a list of threads, some of which might be helpful.
     
  5. tatonka Junior Member

    Saudi Arabia
    Arabic
    Hi there.
    I think the sentence should be like this :

    "a twenty thousand -word thesis"
     

  6. Afraid not, tatonka.

    Use two hyphens or none.

    Rover
     
  7. Spira Senior Member

    South of France
    UK English
    Twenty thousand theses does not have a hyphen in my book.
    But a six-word sentence has one.
    So wouldn't it be a six-word thesis?
    Therefore a twenty thousand-word thesis............
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
  8. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I would agree if it were "twenty thousand-word theses". That's where the hyphen clarifies the meaning. Is "twenty six-word poems" the same as "twenty-six-word poems" or "twenty-six word poems"? To me they are not.

    I agree with Rover. Either use two hyphens or none.
     
  9. Spira Senior Member

    South of France
    UK English
    It's not necessarily the hyphen that makes the difference, it's also the articles and sing/pluriel.
    A twenty thousand-word thesis = one thesis of 20.000 words
    Twenty thousand-word theses = 20 theses of a thousand words
    A twenty-six word poem = one poem of 26 words
    Twenty-six-word poems = the category of poems consisting of 26 words.
    Twenty six-word poems = 20 poems of 6 words.
     
  10. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I see it differently.

    twenty six-word poems = twenty poems of 6 words
    twenty-six-word poems = an unspecified number of poems of 26 words
    twenty-six word poems = 26 poems either of words or about words

    If the hyphen makes this distinction in the plural it's worth carrying it over to the singular for consistency's sake, in my opinion.

    I see no reason for one hyphen here. What is its function? It is not a thesis measured in thousand-word blocks. It is either a twenty-thousand-word thesis or a twenty thousand word thesis, as I see it. We may just have to agree to disagree.
     
  11. Spira Senior Member

    South of France
    UK English
    We may just, but I do think you are forgetting that twenty-six always carries a hyphen, whereas twenty thousand does not.

    The function of the hyphen in a twenty thousand-word thesis is exactly the same as in a 20.000-word thesis; to link the figure to WORD.
     
  12. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    That logic seems inconsistent to me. In your examples you have:

    Twenty-six-word poems = the category of poems consisting of 26 words.
    Twenty six-word poems = 20 poems of 6 words.

    If this distinguishes between 26-word poems and 20 6-word poems, why would it not carry over to 20,000?

    Twenty thousand-word poems = twenty poems of 1,000 words
    Twenty-thousand-word poems = the category of 20,000-word poems
     
  13. Spira Senior Member

    South of France
    UK English
    why would it not carry over to 20,000?

    Because twenty-six always carries a hyphen, whereas twenty thousand does not.

    But I already said that. So I'll sign off now.
     
  14. Myridon

    Myridon Senior Member

    Texas
    English - US
    In American schools, we are taught to write out 20,000 as twenty-thousand with a hyphen. 20,126.12 as twenty-thousand, one-hundred, twenty-six and 12 one-hundredths.
     
  15. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod


    My question is how you would distinguish between twenty 1,000-word papers and 20,000-word papers? I understand that you think the hyphen does not apply to twenty thousand. How then do you make a distinction in writing out the words longhand for twenty 1,000-word papers and 20,000-word papers?

    To me, the hyphen is used to attach all the words that modify the final adjective, regardless of how you would treat the number in other circumstances. "The road will be built in five-mile-long segments" means to me that that road is longer than five miles but will be built one five-mile segment at a time. "The road will be built in five mile-long segments" means that the road is five miles in length and will be built in mile-long segments. They mean very different things to me.
     
  16. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Perhaps we have a BrE / AmE difference in how numbers are written that is clouding this specific issue.

    The words "twenty, thousand and word" form an all-too-familiar multi-word adjectival phrase where a hyphen is usually required between all the often-run-together parts, to show that they are all the components of the descriptors. So we can have one or a hundred or a million "twenty-thousand-word theses".
     
  17. Spira Senior Member

    South of France
    UK English
    Which might well explain our differences on this question, as I would have been taught in England to write twenty thousand, one hundred and twenty-six point one two.
     
  18. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I don't know that it's a BrE / AmE difference when it comes to adjectival phrases. In my "five-mile-long vs. five mile-long" example above, I think the meaning is the same in both variants, but I may be wrong.

    I went looking for something outside my own predilection to see how hyphenated numbers should be handled. The Chicago Manual of Style lines up with your thinking (and mine):

     
  19. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Hear, hear:thumbsup:

    I see no AmE/BrE varietal difference here. I agree with James and Rover: use either two hyphens (my preference) or none.
     
  20. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Sorry if I wasn't as clear as I thought! I was very careful when I wrote in restricting the difference to how numbers are written as being the BrE /AmE issue. Then, this specific issue is the concatenated-with-hyphens adjectival phrase that I suggested needed the hyphens. That was never up for existing as a BrE/AmE issue. I'm glad to see James and Loob agree with this suggestion :D
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2010

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