or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Sunday, November 06, 2005


I don't usually read the National Post, but I happened to be leafing through it yesterday over breakfast at some fast-food joint (we were on the road), and naturally, since it's engaged in an arms race with the Globe and Mail to become The National Newspaper With The Most Errors, one of the first things my eyes alighted upon was a mistake, at which point I put it down with a sigh. I don't know why I even bother.

I had picked up the Style section--not really sure why, since I have no especial interest in any style except writing style--and after skimming a ridiculous page 2 article about men who get Brazilian wax jobs (don't ask) I jumped to a piece on page 3 about media whores and professional vulgarians Rob and Amber, and one of the very first words in the piece was "whupass". I can live with that (though I'd prefer it be hyphenated into "whup-ass"), but what I can't live with is how it was hyphenated at the line break:


Here's an earlier piece I wrote about line breaks and incorrect hyphenation. Everything in it is still true; if you're going to employ full justification, you need a hyphenation dictionary or the software is going to start guess where the hyphens go, and it is going to get things wrong.

"Whupass", or "whoop-ass", is popularly used in the strange and recent expression "open a can of whoop-ass on", which is to say "beat the hell out of". The word is obviously constructed out of "whoop"/"whup", which is a variant of "whip", and "ass" (which is to say "I'm going to whip your ass, pal"), and therefore the hyphenation break has to occur between those halves. It cannot be hyphenated as the National Post hyphenated it. What happened, I think, is that the software thought, "Now, let's see; I'd hyphenate "trespass" as "tres-pass", and looky here! This one also ends in -pass! That's a word! Shove the hyphen in front of it!"



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