The audible hyphen of one’s forgotten name

The interesting curtailment of speech that you hear, an audible hyphen, when someone forgets your name mid sentence.

Thank you, —

One hears the comma, indicating something is to follow, perhaps a name. Then one hears the hyphen indicating a sudden change of plan; now nothing is to follow because your name has been forgotten.


This happened twice yesterday. In the first instance, the speaker was someone who knew my name very well but could be prone to fits of poor recall (“Thank you, –” she had said, trying belatedly to make the hyphen sound like a period.)

In the second instance, it was someone I’d known for a decade at least, but would rarely see more frequently than once or twice a month. “Thank you, –” she had said — and it was then that it struck me how very different “thank you,” punctuated that way, sounded from “thank you.” punctuated with a full stop.

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