Re: online vs. on-line, again

Subject: Re: online vs. on-line, again
From: Ned Bedinger <qwa -at- HARDY -dot- U -dot- WASHINGTON -dot- EDU>
Date: Mon, 8 Nov 1993 15:21:06 GMT

In article <9310261742 -dot- AA02158 -at- bigbird -dot- metrix -dot- com>,
Kelly Hoffman <kelly -at- nashua -dot- hp -dot- com> wrote:
>Nancy Burns <nburns -at- NOAO -dot- EDU> writes:

>> [examples preferring "online" omitted]

>> All of which contradicts the American Heritage Dictionary's listing [for
>> "on-line"] (which is grammatically correct), but supports other TECHWR-L
>> comments about omitting the hyphen for reasons of common usage and
> readability.

>This, of course (obviously? :-), begs the question: when does usage
>become "common"?

I think that the real question is obscured by the notion of a
watershed that is simply "common". To me the hyphenated and
non-hyphenated forms are used according to the rules of whoever
is in control of the vocabulary. For instance, a technically
oriented person would prefer the hyphenat3ed form because it
conveys the hybrid nature of the word, which is really
two objects interfaced in a particular way which the reader
must mentally model to understand. A busy manager would
rather not be bothered with the underlying structure and
proper parsing of the term, and thus prefers no hyphen.

If the word has become "online", then the manager class has
defined the term. If it is hyphenated, then techies are in

> -- Kelly
>Kelly K. Hoffman kelly -at- nashua -dot- hp -dot- com
>Learning Products Engineer
>Hewlett-Packard, Network Test Division "Reading the manual is
>One Tara Blvd., Nashua, NH 03062 admitting defeat."

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