Mail-order brides, anyone? Explained

I hinted in yesterday’s entry that Swedish compound words should be hyphenated when split across text lines. Hyphenation can be used to abbreviate the first of two compound words with the same tail, but different heads. Incidentally, English has a similar phenomenon, e.g. “Would the first- and second-place winners please report to the medal stand?” Not hyphenating properly in Swedish can result in double meanings and misunderstandings analogous to those stemming from särskrivning, for example the following text from an advertisement:

Köp din brud eller balklänning till hyr pris.


The sentence should read, “Köp din brud- eller balklänning till hyrpris.” Written properly, it means, “Buy your bridal or ball dress for the rental price.” As written above (and ignoring the särskrivning of “hyrpris”) it means, “Buy your bride or ball dress for the rental price.” The hyphen after “brud” indicates that it’s the head of the word “brudklänning,” rather than a standalone word.


One thought on “Mail-order brides, anyone? Explained

  1. Pingback: Mail-order brides, anyone? | Linguistic Parlor Tricks

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