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In this sentence: "before migrating to lower SoHo, and the then still fringe neighborhood of Chelsea," I feel like "then-still" should be hyphenated, but I can't find a rule in the Chicago Manual of Style about it. Any ideas?

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    Note that the "CamelCase" capitalisation SoHo is an acronym for Small Office / Home Office, not a district in London. But seriously - was there ever a time when you could call Chelsea a "fringe neighbourhood"? Whatever - the normal hyphenation here would be the then-still-fringe neighbourhood, since those three highlighted words are being "ungrammatically" forced into a syntactically adjectival role. – FumbleFingers Aug 16 '18 at 15:12
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    There is no stringent rule for hyphenation. – Ubi hatt Aug 16 '18 at 15:13
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    Hyphenating "then-still" looks odd to me. If anything, I would hyphenate "still-fringe." – user184130 Aug 16 '18 at 15:16
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    Thanks @FumbleFingers--just for clarification, the article is about NYC, during a time when the Chelsea neighborhood here was indeed considered "fringe" :) – Ania Aug 16 '18 at 15:20
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    Because you should only use hyphens when some confusion would otherwise arise, which misparsing are you attempting to avoid here? Books don't hyphenate this. – tchrist Aug 16 '18 at 15:22
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In a comment, I wrote:

Because you should only use hyphens when some confusion would otherwise arise, which misparsing are you attempting to avoid here? Books don't hyphenate this.

In a comment, FumbleFingers wrote:

Yeah - hyphenating just still-fringe doesn't look too bad either (but just then-still looks weird). As a matter of fact though, when I just searched Google Books for the structurally-identical sequence the then still unknown (person, thing, idea) I didn't see any hyphenated instances in the first couple of pages of 636 results returned.

  • "The still unknown person" is structurally different from "the still fringe neighbourhood" because "unknown" is an adjective, but "fringe" is not: it's a noun. "The still unknown person" can be derived from "The person was still unknown", but "the still fringe neighbourhood" needs to be derived from something like "the neighbourhood was still a fringe neighbourhood". "Still unknown" is an AdjP but "still fringe" is not an AdjP ("fringe" being a N). If it's a NP it's an odd one as it is Adv+N (like "the then mayor"?). – Rosie F Aug 7 '20 at 6:01
  • @Rosie F Dictionaries are divided over how they classify the premodifier usage of fringe. They're not usually the best place to get such an analysis, and I haven't seen a published article looking at the doubtless ongoing conversion from noun to adjective in this usage. There are over 200 000 Google hits for {"very fringe" -"the very fringe"}, and early examples of the modifier usage include both prenominal and predicative ones. I'd have to compare 'a still fringe neighbourhood' with 'a still modern approach' say. Googling the latter gives various punctuations (including scare-quotes). – Edwin Ashworth Dec 5 '20 at 16:22

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