How is the spelling of a hyphenated word usually read out loud?

For example, with "Anglo-Saxon", do we say:

"It is spelt as A—N—G—L—O—dash—S—A—X—O—N."

Or do we say:

"It is spelt as A—N—G—L—O—hyphen—S—A—X—O—N."

  • 1
    @RegDwigнt, I'm trying to write out sounds without using IPA... That aside, is it common practice to pronounce a "hyphen" as DASH? – Pacerier Aug 16 '14 at 11:33
  • 1
    You are trying to write out sounds without using IPA why? That aside, yes, some people pronounce a hyphen as "dash". For a variety of reasons, including not knowing what a dash is. If I were you, I'd name a hyphen a hyphen. The question right now reads, "do I pronounce car as 'automobile' or 'korr'", to which the answer is obvious I should think. – RegDwigнt Aug 16 '14 at 11:41
  • 1
    Not that I have ever been taught, although as some of my bumbling in comments would illustrate, my grasp of grammar is more the result of copious amounts of reading as a child than formal teaching. I typically use 'dash' because it describes the shape you are drawing on the page to more of the population than hyphen, but that may just be me being cynical... – Sam Aug 16 '14 at 11:43
  • 2
    @RegDwigнt, Because /dæʃ/ and /ˈhaɪ.fən/ is pure-greek to me. I don't assume the average user would know how to pronounce /tɛkst/ or even /huːs/. This question is not of "do I pronounce car as 'automobile' or 'korr'", but more of "according to description, is the letter A pronounced as /eɪnt/ or /ɑː/ by the average british/american—when they are telling people how to spell a word containing that letter?". – Pacerier Aug 16 '14 at 11:52
  • 1
    @Pacerier Whether it's Greek or not, when the question is about how something is said, and the site is for "for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts," it's reasonable to use the standard method of writing pronunciation. – Andrew Leach Aug 16 '14 at 12:48

The simple answer is, you read out "hyphen". Generally not "dash" or other options. So, that's the answer!

em-dash would be "E M Hyphen D A S H". No mystery!

Anglo-Saxon would be "A, N, G, L, O, hyphen, S, A, X, O, N"

For comparison, "it's" would be "I, T, apostrophe, S".

(Just for your information, almost nobody knows what an "em-dash" is: it is a typographical term. Just FWIW you're probably just write "em dash" by the way, with no hyphen in that term.)

  • +1 I had just about started to write the same thing thinking you'd self-exiled already. What a bizarre sequence of comments. It's always hyphen, there are no words with any one of the 'dashes' in them. The whole 'dash' nonsense is purely style. – Frank Aug 16 '14 at 14:02
  • Lol right on, Frank. – Fattie Aug 16 '14 at 14:02

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.