Thursday, April 14, 2005

It's My Party, and I'll Hyphenate if I Want To

It was a 100th-birthday party, not (barring coincidence) a 100th birthday party, at which Trent Lott said those nice things about Strom Thurmond that cost Lott his Senate leadership position a couple of years ago.

Am I being too fussy in insisting on that hyphen? No.

Everybody knows that the reference is to 100 birthdays, not 100 parties, but is that a principle that can be applied to all such instances? Of course not. Only a 1-year-old can have a first-birthday party, but you may have had your first birthday party at 2 or 3 or 47. The icing-on-the-face thing gets pretty old somewhere between 3 and 47.

5 comments:

Peter Fisk said...

Good point. Also, if someone has three parties on their 40th birthday, the last of those is a third birthday party but not a third-birthday party.

Casper Vidor said...

Your posts on this blog lack the wit of your books and seem to have taken on an air of petulance. Are you angry about something?

Bill said...

Angry about something? Well, NOW I am!

aparker54 said...

I agree with the post, but the headline throws me. Why not "a Party"? Length? And is the clever reference (I once owned the album — I "won" it at a fair when I was a child) messing up your meaning? Your post says hyphenation at will is not what we want, doesn't it?
It's early, and I'll probably regret this in the evening.

aparker54 said...

OK. With the "my," the head works. Seeing it atop the column helps.