I'm creating a formal system in which a sentence can be formed by four types of sequences of characters:

  1. Words
  2. Prefixes
  3. Suffixes
  4. Sequences in between words

What noun would you use to describe a sequence of characters between words?

I initially thought of "spaces" but that didn't seem appropriate as you could form sentences like cat->scratch, and -> is definitely not a space.

A friend of mine suggested "delimiters" but here -> doesn't delimit anything. Now we're both out of nouns.

  • 1
    They are not necessarily spaces or delimiters. They are non-lexical entities in language. In a programming context, they do have meaning and function in a way similar to words/ phrases. You need to call them either symbols or consider the first three of the above group as lexicals and the last as non-lexicals (note that lexical is an adjective per se.) – Kris Apr 7 '13 at 7:23
  • @Kris - Calling them non-lexical entities sounds too vague. I'm looking for a single-word adjective to describe it. – Aadit M Shah Apr 7 '13 at 7:44
  • 2
    Your problem is that you're hoping that the natural language English contains words in its lexis that are sufficient to cater for every possible feature of a formal language. English isn't like that; you may or may not be able to find single-word terms that are close enough in meaning to be readily transferable to the formal language. Linguists even have problems with meta-language (the language used to describe how 'natural English' works): is 'particle board' a word? – Edwin Ashworth Apr 7 '13 at 8:08
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    Do you want an adjective or a noun? "Words", "prefixes", and "suffixes" are nouns. Are you looking for a corresponding noun? If so, you should change the subject of your question. – Canis Lupus Apr 7 '13 at 16:10

Use junction and state somewhere that junctions may include any number of spaces, but a valid junction can not contain zero spaces alone.

Use conjunction and say they may also be used to separate words.


4. Junction (separates or joins words with " ", "->", ":" - space, arrow and colon)


Actually, you're looking for a noun, since you're naming things.

Since you're looking for something other than white space, I would suggest glyph, especially in this sense:

A symbol, such as a stylized figure or arrow on a public sign, that imparts information nonverbally.

Or, simply go with symbol.

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