Re. Reasons for odd hyphenation

Subject: Re. Reasons for odd hyphenation
From: geoff-h -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 1996 13:20:59 -0600

David Ibbetson asked for the origin of strange hyphenation
such as "Nation-sbank" and "1,-222" (among others). The
origin is in the method chosen by the software to automate
hyphenation. Basically, you've got three options:

1. Algorithmic, which usually means "break at a logical
syllable". If this happens to be the wrong syllable, or a
syllable that forms a word (e.g., rape-seed) you get
strange results. Algorithms may also break numbers that
include commas, since a comma more commonly (in text,
leastwise) introduces a clause that should be separated by
a comma and a space; in trying to follow this rule, the
software outsmarts itself.

2. Dictionary, variant #1, which means that the words break
at some root word that exists in the spellchecker's
dictionary (e.g., base-ball, rape-seed). Since plural forms
often aren't listed, "Nation-sbank" would break at the
singular of "nations", even though the plural would be a
more logical breakpoint.

3. Dictionary, variant #2, which means that the software
uses the hyphenation breaks proposed by a published
dictionary (e.g., Webster's) or a well-designed spell
checker's dictionary.

The latter is most likely to give good hyphenation, but
I've no idea how common it is; the first two methods are
likely to give you occasional or even frequent problems,
and based on the examples David gave, I'd guess that this
is the origin. Just goes to show you... a computer is no
match for a good human typesetter.

--Geoff Hart @8^{)}
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca

Disclaimer: If I didn't commit it in print in one of our
reports, it don't represent FERIC's opinion.


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