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[Lat.,=point], the use of special signs in writing to clarify how words are used; the term also refers to the signs themselves. In every language, besides the sounds of the words that are strung together there are other features, such as tone, accent, and pauses,
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a short horizontal line used without spaces in several types of words and word combinations.
In words the hyphen joins particles, as in the Russian chto-to, “something,” and the French celui-ci, “this one” or “the latter”; prefixes, as in the Russian po-prezhnemu, “as before”; and the roots of compounds, as in the Russian temno-krasnyi, “dark red,” and the [British] English “baby-talk.”
Word combinations with a hyphen are usually one part of the sentence: the Russian Diuma-otets, “Dumas père,” and the English “good-for-nothing.” The hyphen is also used for syllable division at the end of a line and as a sign of abbreviation, as in the Russian b-ka (for biblioteka, “library”) and s.-kh. (for sel’skokhoziaistvennyi, “agricultural”).