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Saying hyphenated names over the phone.
Should I say dash or hyphen

 12:20 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have a special website for phone support issues, for all those customers that can't read.

My un-hyphenated domain name is quite a mouthful, so we have a simple name for our remote receptionist to direct callers to for support to most common questions:

For example: example-support.com

Up in our neck of the woods, we have tend to use dash.

However I realize that their are cultural differences, and I was wondering if the receptionist should be saying dash or hyphen.

Technically, a dash is not a hyphen, but generally this is only know to copy proof editors.

What is your take?

Saying "example dash support.com"


"example hyphen support.com"

Our market is primary Canada and the USA.



 1:15 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Technically, a dash is not a hyphen, but generally this is only know to copy proof editors.

And a select few other Boring Old Poops ;) If you want real fun, introduce the En Dash into the discussion.

Do you need to pronounce anything at all? Ordinarily when you're reading out something printed with a dash or a hyphen, you just pause, as for a word or syllable break. You'd only say explicitly "hyphen" if you're spelling out the word.

Can't help but wonder what exactly you meant by "customers who can't read". Do you mean, ahem, exceptionally stupid customers, or customers who have some physical impediment?

I'm trying to think if I've ever heard either term used in, say, TV advertising for a website. But since these consistently say "backslash" for / slash* it may not be much help.

* Those same copy editors would call it a virgule.


 10:23 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sorry, I was being sarcastic about customers being unable to read.

It is just that customers will telephone for an answer, when the anwswer to their question is right in front of them on the web page (or one click away) i.e. click for detailed shipping rates.

When you tell somebody over the phone, to go to a website, which has a hyphen in it,(i.e example-support.com) you say

Please visit, example dash support dot com

example hyphen support dot com, does not roll off the tongue that easy.

But maybe it's just my cultural upbringing, like why would anybody call a softdrink soda, instead of pop.



 4:16 pm on Jun 1, 2012 (gmt 0)


We say Example [space} HYPHEN [space and very clearly] Support.com, and sometimes twice when we give out one of our websites over the phone. But we say something else that's simpler when we answer our phones.

I do get the idea that the dash is winning that war. But it IS a hyphen, after all.

BTW, I'm a hyphen-guy. Use them often in writing.


 5:06 pm on Jun 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hopefully you don't actually say "space" ( because there aren't any in example-support.com :)..

Simplest solution is to always register the "with" and the "without the hyphen"..and redirect the one to the other..then the customer can't ( theoretically ) get it wrong ..although some will astound you with their inventive obtuseness ..

Could be worse..in France the word for the little line is not "hyphen" ..it is "trait de liaison" or "trait d'union" or incorrectly "tiret" ( the latter of which is actually a double length hyphen ) or even more incorrectly "moins" meaning minus..

Depending on who you are speaking to, their age, their level of literacy etc ..they may well not know what each of the foregoing actually mean.. "trait d'union" is the only truly correct usage ..most will think it is "trait de liason", and the "yoof", will think it is "moins"..

"trait de liaison" is pronounced "tray duh leeyayzon"..
"trait d'union" is pronounced "tray dyoonyun"..
"tiret" is pronounced "teeray"..
"moins" is tricky, it is pronounced "mwan" with the "n" sounded in the nose..and the mwa part rhymes with the qua in quack*:)
and "hyphen"
( were it to exist as a word in French )
would be pronounced "eefen"..

French is full of these little horizontal lines,( and other "squiggles" ) far more so than English..they make "bātons dans les roues" ( "sticks in the wheels" ) to impede the linguistic progress of the non native French speaker..

*Quack is written as Couac..and pronounced quack..

Register "with" and "without" and redirect..life is too short..

"alcool o'clock" ( yes that is how alcohol is written here ) ...cheers :)


 5:56 pm on Jun 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hopefully you don't actually say "space"

I guess I should have instead typed....... [pause].

Yes, we have both domains. A very few people simply can't "get" hyphen and we'll switch to saying, "a little dash." Not a big deal but like I said, "dash" seems to be winning. I've thought about joining them.


 7:22 pm on Jun 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just watch. Someone will ask how to spell "hyphen".


 2:14 pm on Jun 2, 2012 (gmt 0)

Simplest solution is to always register the "with" and the "without the hyphen"..and redirect the one to the other..then the customer can't ( theoretically ) get it wrong ..although some will astound you with their inventive obtuseness ..

Another thought is to register the name with something simple in the front or end of the domain name, and redirect that.


Just make a REALLY EASY name to figure out and redirect that to your support page.

If all else fails, can you use a . instead of a - in the URL?

(I plead ignorance here; I honestly don't know whether URLs will resolve with a . in them if they aren't a subdomian. Guess I am less of a geek than I thought I was...)


 8:46 am on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

in some languages the hyphen is not a hyphen but a MINUS.
Sounds weird but is used quite often.


 3:55 pm on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

You mean in domain names?! (I sure hope so, because I don't know of any operating system that has two distinct keys on the standard keyboard.) So "widget-foobar.com" would be interpreted as "widgets without foobars" or "foobarless widgets"?


 8:02 pm on Jun 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you give out the hyphenated version of your name, you run the risk of the person entering it without the hyphen and, possibly, ending up on your competitor's site. For that reason, I wouldn't recommend using a hyphenated domain name anywhere that can't be hyper-linked.

If you can't register the name without hyphens, get a more generic domain name and either redirect it to your main site or display clickable links to your site on it.

I host our local model rocket club's web site. The domain name is the acronym for the club with each letter separated by a hyphen. When telling people about the site, I used to spell it out - using "dash" instead of "hyphen" because it confuses less people than saying "hyphen" even though it's not exactly correct.

I got tired of saying that mouthful (ot doesn't exactly roll off the tongue) and I'm sure that few remembered it. So I registered a second domain name of the form citynamerocketry.com. It's is easier to say and to remember. On that site I have links to the local club's site and some basic info for people that might not be familiar with rocketry.

-- Roger


 8:14 am on Jun 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

I meant the word MINUS is used in spelling out the hyphenated domain name over the phone - sorry for any confusions

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