| A prefix is
followed by a hyphenette only
1. The designated meaning of the prefix plus the meaning of the root word equals the meaning of the combination.
2. The meaning of prefix + root word must be unambiguously clear.
The meaning of the prefix is only that meaning which is listed below.
Advantages of hyphenated fixed-meaning prefixes:
The hyphen isolates the root word, for easy recognition.
Clarifies ambiguities. E.g. “replace” (substitute) and “re-place” (move to a different place) have different meanings.
Eliminates hundreds of vocabulary words no longer needed to memorize.
Encourages usage of prefixes when creating new words.
For distinctions between un- , non- , and dis- , see below.
Distinction between prefixes
“non-” and “un-”
Non- is neutral, un- is negative. "Non-" means "not" or "without", while "un'-" means :"opposite of". "A laborer has a non-professional job; a lawyer shouting at a client elicits un-professional behavior. So: non-combatant (e.g. a nurse on a battlefield), non-starter (not able to start), non-restrictive (without restrictions), non-legal (absence of any legal jurisdiction). But: un-clean (dirty), un-gentlemanly (rude), un-fair (biased), un-truthful (false), un-legal (prohibited by law). The distinction allows nuance. E.g., non-helpful (did not bother to help) versus un-helpful (a hindrance). E.g. an un-conformist differs farther from normal behavior than a non-conformist; the former actively rebels, while the latter merely refuses to cooperate.
Some words can take both prefixes, with slightly different meanings. Examples
un-guarded implies should have been guarded but was not. non-guarded, just not guarded.
un-flexible implies further resistance to change than non-flexible.
un-rational implies confused thinking, whereas non-rational implies not related to rationality.
un-mercifully suggests cruelty; non-mercifully implies lack of concern.
un-practical is not only non-practical but might have negative consequences.
Distinction between prefixes "un-", "non-", and "dis-".
The Peoplese prefix "dis-" reverses the action of the root verb, so English "unbutton" is Peoplese "dis-button". Similarly, "dis-latch", "dis-do", "dis-fasten"; "dis-cover" (remove a cover previously put in place), while unhyphenated "discover" means to find out something not previously known. Thus, “non-buttoned” (not yet buttoned) and “dis-buttoned” (after being buttoned, the reverse action) have different meanings.
Examples of word beginnings not followed by hyphens because of too many or confusing meanings:
com, con, in, inter, over
Examples of words not hyphenated:
“premature” means “doing some∙thing before its due time”, not “before mature”
“undernourished” does not refer to a location; it means not sufficiently nourished.
“recover” means return to former state; “re-cover” mean “cover again” (e.g. a pot on a stove)
“renew” cannot mean “again new” because “new” is not a verb.
“repay” means “pay back”, not “pay again”.
“resolve” means "find a solution", "settle an argument"; "re-solve” means “solve again”, e.g. if first solution unsatisfactory.
“underweight” does not refer to a location; it means “less than average weight”.
“ultra” when not meaning “excessive” is of course not hyphenated. E.g. ultrasound, ultraviolet, ultramontane.
Speakers and writers of literary Peoplese will use the above and similarly confusing words sparingly, if at all.