[texhax] TeX hyphenation -- why do so many words get no hyphens

Pierre MacKay mackay at cs.washington.edu
Thu Aug 5 23:21:56 CEST 2004

As you say, the only acceptable approach is the declaration of a separate
language for fuller hyphenation than is offered by plain TeX.  "us-h-english" or
something of the sort.  

The aesthetics of more (or less) hyphenation seem potentially fascinating.
I have long had an entirely untested feeling that English setting is content
with rather more inter-word space than is preferred in some other languages.
Indeed, I often have to increase the right and left side bearings of some of
the common fonts by a very small fraction to get the effect the publisher wants.
The foundry set width can be uncomfortably tight.

I don't think I have ever seen a final hyphen in a paragraph except when doing
extreme loosening, and I am afraid I cure that the simple way, by hboxing
the final word or words (that is also the cure for isolated words shorter
than the indent when they appear at the foot of a paragraph---what some 
jargons call clubs).  

Fortunately I rarely have to indulge in multi-column setting, but I recognize
that that makes more thorough hyphenation necessary.  It really is impressive
to see how well the older high-quality news magazines did it, before most of
them fell back on tracking.  I suspect rewording was often required.  I have
had to appeal to authors, on occasion, and have always found them generous
when the problem was explained.  

As has been pointed out, even the inclusion of a larger exceptions list than
the original is going to affect Don's criterion for archival stability, so
it really looks as if the answer is a different \language. At modern 
processor speeds, as you suggest, a huge wordlist is not much of an

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