Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

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  • Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

    The dictionary tells us that "childlike" is a single word. He has childlike enthusiasm. OK, no problem.

    But what about: "He cowers child-like as someone BANGS on the door." (IOW, a shortened version of: "He cowers like a child as...")

    There, "child-like" functions as an adverb. Somehow it strikes me that it should be hyphenated.

    Opinions invited - intuitive, aesthetic, and/or technical.
    Last edited by Manchester; 11-08-2013, 10:40 AM. Reason: Clarified the situation/question

  • #2
    Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

    http://sentence.yourdictionary.com/childlike

    I'd go with

    He cowers, childlike.

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    • #3
      Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

      "He cowers child-like." That reads clunky and wrong to me. And wouldn't you need a comma after cowers? Just say "He cowers." Or "He cowers like a little baby." It all depends on the tone, context, and intent. Do adults cower differently than children?
      "The Hollywood film business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." Hunter S Thompson

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      • #4
        Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

        To DangoForth and cshel - Thanks for the replies, and while this might not change your POV on this... I now realize that my initial post didn't set things up as it should have.

        I've changed it to read: "He cowers child-like as someone BANGS on the door."

        IMO, "He cowers, childlike, as someone BANGS on the door" - those commas seem like speed-bumps. (At least in the tempo of the scene I'm writing.)

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        • #5
          Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

          Now, you knew that I would be the one to answer this, didn't you, Manchester?

          You have raised an excellent question. But it does not have a quick and easy answer.

          The best quick answer is that the word is still *childlike* even when you use it 'adverb-like'.

          Although *childlike* is an adjective in the dictionary, you could argue reasonably that the word is being used in an adverbial fashion. The fact is that you could recast the sentence or punctuate it differently (with a different way of speaking it), and the word would clearly be an adjective.

          Childlike, he cowers. (Adjective)
          He cowers, childlike. (Adjective)

          But:

          He cowers childlike. (Adjective or adjective used adverbially.)

          But leave the spelling as *childlike*.

          Sometimes you may feel inclined, reasonably and correctly, to spell a *-like* compound with the hyphen, as I did with *adverb-like* above. In these words that are not common forms, the hyphen is sometimes used. But even in those instances you could spell the word without the hyphen. The use of the hyphen is strictly a spelling issue that has nothing to do with part of speech (adjective vs. adverb).

          "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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          • #6
            Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

            Why not be more direct and say, "He cowers like a child."

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            • #7
              Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

              I thought about answering this, then I was like Eh. ComicBent probably already got there and had a way better answer.
              Chicks Who Script podcast

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              • #8
                Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

                Is it leaf blower or leaf-blower?


                Thanks,


                Mark


                Hey! You might do it in your house, but in this house we don't lick our butts. -- Mother Teresa

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                • #9
                  Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

                  Originally posted by Mark Somers View Post
                  Is it leaf blower or leaf-blower?
                  Thanks,
                  Mark
                  Okay, Mark. This one's for you...


                  Last edited by DangoForth; 11-09-2013, 03:49 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

                    He cowers like a beoutch.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

                      RULE 0,000,001

                      If it's easier to read, then it is correct.
                      sigpic

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                      • #12
                        Re: Attention: Hyphen devotees - Might 'child-like' be correct?

                        Thanks, all. And yes, CB - of course.

                        It's not as though this is hanging up my script. I was trying to get rid of an orphan-line in an action paragraph, because that one orphan was kicking over to the point that it added a page to my script. And I am a grammar geek. So, even though I was able to resolve the orphan-line problem, I thought I'd throw the question out here.

                        As I did some research after some of you had posted, I discovered: If you take "beast" and "like", some dictionaries say "beastlike", others say "beast-like". And so, it seems either way would be OK. That being established, I'd likely spell it one way or the other based on the sentence:
                        1 - His plodding, beastlike steps made the house shake.

                        2 - He plodded beast-like across the room, and the whole house shook.
                        Somewhere in the failing neurons of my mind there is a memory that tells me to distinguish those two uses - adjectival vs. adverbial - in that way. Google didn't help me find any source to support this notion (nor a source to refute it). Of course, maybe it's not some vestige of a grammar-memory; it's merely an aesthetic thing masquerading as a grammar-memory. Like - sometimes deciding to use "cannot", and other times using "can not".

                        Again, thanks to all.

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