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Reply to "How should I deal with these three issues?"

Thank you so much for consolidating all of my queries; you really went above and beyond and I appreciate that a lot because I was very messy in just spreading them all out all over this thread! I appreciate it a lot!

So here are the examples:

(1) this JFK assassination nonsense
(2) hardcore conspiracy theorists
(3) Pentagon advisory documents
(4) a crazy conspiracy theorist
(5) a mildly insane conspiracy theorist
(6) the JFK conspiracy industry
(7) big conspiracy books

How exactly do we know that the following interpretations aren't possible?

(1) JFK [assassination nonsense]

(2) [hardcore conspiracy] theorists

(3) ...I'm not even sure if this should be thought of as "[Pentagon advisory] documents" or "Pentagon [advisory documents], actually!

(4) [crazy conspiracy] theorist

(5) [mildly insane conspiracy] theorist

(6) JFK [conspiracy industry]

(7) [big conspiracy] books

I guess that the answer is "common sense" when it comes to (2) and (4) and (5) and (7).

Then (3) is a weird one; not even sure how it's supposed to be interpreted!

Then that leaves (1) and (6), which are the two that you said could actually take a hyphen.

These issues are tricky because you can look at the NYT and see that (if I recall correctly) they go back and forth on whether to do (A) "fast food worker" or (B) "fast-food worker"...the distinction between (A) and (B) is a matter of common sense, since "fast food" is such a common phrase, although theoretically you might interpret that as "fast [food worker]".

Last edited by Andrew Van Wagner