Hyphenation and word division/Worttrennung

Germans learn word division at school, because they have to do it in handwriting (some German words won’t even fit on one line). English speakers encounter it first in MS Word.

Most of my German clients deliver electronic files, and they seem to like both the left and right margins to be justified (Blocksatz). I don’t understand that, but I suppose we don’t all have to be the same.

Turn off automatic word division if you go into English. It isn’t as necessary as in German.

But what do you do when you have to revise word divisions in proofs for a booklet that has to be published? Here are a few I did yesterday. The asterisks mark the division given in the layout, the second versions with hyphens my corrections:

recogniz*ed: Trennung, wenn überhaupt, recog-nized
move*ment: nicht trennen, da am Ende einer Seite
cour*tyard: Trennung kann nur court-yard sein
Carolingi*an: Trennung, wenn überhaupt, Carolin-gian
lar*ger: nicht trennen
architectu*re: Trennung architec-ture
symboliz*ed: Trennung symbol-ized
hig*hest: Trennung high-est
cha*racteristic: Trennung char-acteristic
massi*ve: nicht trennen, ob am Ende einer Seite oder überhaupt
qua*drangle: Trennung quad-rangle
baro*que: Trennung bar-oque

Most of these are obvious, and perhaps I should just leave non-obvious ones alone, but I am attracted by the Oxford Mini-Dictionary of Spelling. I know I bought another one once and found it had all the U.S. divisions (they go by syllables rather than by derivation). U.S. divisions can be found in Merriam-Webster’s.

But this Hyphenologist site gives good rules at the end, and it shows how all the books disagree with each other and within publishers. It’s the kind of site that makes you think the best thing to do is to go back to bed.

(Thanks to Philip on the ITI GerNet mailing list)

8 thoughts on “Hyphenation and word division/Worttrennung

  1. Typical German typesetter mentality.
    Use the German hyphenation algorithm on the English text, then find a translator to fix it for free or a minimal fee. Cheaper than buying the proper tools for the job. (Yes, they can buy an English hyphenation module for QuarkXpress and Co., but that costs money and the translator usually doesn’t).
    Of course, fixing one bad hyphenation break will usually cause a knock-on effect in the form of bad breaks in subsequent lines. But who cares about the reader anyway?
    [/Cynic mode off]

  2. We learned hyphenation rules “in the School” – Catholic grammar school (always have the reputation of being the only ones still teaching things like sentence diagramming that no one else still sees

  3. ann: Do you remember what book that was? Sounds pretty ridiculous.
    Diagramming sentences may be a U.S. thing, or maybe it came to England after my time. I am always impressed when I see Americans doing that.

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