Re: RARA-AVIS: Re:The word "noir"

From: David Rachels (
Date: 31 Aug 2009

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    In one his novels (don't remember which one), Faulkner uses the word
    "belllike." That's a missing hypen that will stop you every time!


    On Aug 29, 2009, at 9:16 AM, ejmd wrote:

    > I'm not a great one for dictionary definitions; more specialist texts
    > are better sources of information than the postage-stamp sized spaces
    > typically available in a general compendium. That said, the closest
    > dictionary to hand (Collins English Dictionary, updated third edition
    > (1994)) offers "_adj_ (of a film) showing characteristics of film
    > noir,
    > in plot or style". The cross reference gives "_n_ a gangster thriller,
    > made esp. in the 1940s in Hollywood characterised by contrasty
    > lighting
    > and often somewhat impenetrable plots [C20: French, literally: black
    > film]". Meanwhile, Frank Krutnik's _In A Lonely Street: _Film Noir_,
    > Genre, Maculinity_ (London: 1991) devotes chapter three to "hard
    > boiled"
    > crime fiction and _film noir_.
    > While Krutnik italicises both "noir" and "film noir", I would suggest
    > that they are in common usage to not need italicisation; house
    > style may
    > of course prevail. I'm not so sure about the plural though, as _films
    > noirs_ does not appear to be so common (the incorrect "film noirs" is,
    > however, another matter). Interestingly, Krutnik seems to avoid the
    > plural, although the term _femmes fatales_ does make an appearance in
    > his text
    > As far as hypens go, I'm with the clarifiers: punctuation functions
    > as a
    > way of helping the reader; if it's faulty, the reader's experience is
    > disrupted. Omitting hyphens for the sake of "cleanliness" is simply
    > misguided: if in doubt, consider the three year old dogs.
    > ED

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