Friday, April 27, 2007
Looking at today's Wall Street Journal, I spotted two front-page headlines that Paul R. Martin is likely to brand "heads below the rest" in the next Style & Substance.
In a Scandal
He's diet doctor Atkins. No hyphen. The phrase "diet doctor" is not an adjective or a modifier; it's simply a noun that helps define another noun. There's probably a fancy grammatical term for that, but I'd call it a label. Diet doctor Atkins, copy editor Walsh, baseball player Bonds. All labels. "Steroid abuser Bonds" would not get a hyphen (still a label), but "steroid-abusing Bonds" would -- there's a modifier.
Then, a couple of inches away, I see this:
All Harman Investors
Have Chance for a Stake
In KKR, Goldman Deal
A comma used that way in a headline means "and." I suppose in some sense you have a "KKR and Goldman deal," but that's just not how such a thing is supposed to be punctuated. It's a KKR-Goldman deal. Ali-Frazier fight, Tigers-Yankees game, Burton-Taylor marriage, KKR-Goldman deal.
Under the fairness doctrine, I'm obligated to point out that my paper also made a front-page hyphenation error today. From the article on Stephen Hawking's ride on the vomit comet:
Dressed in dark blue flight suits, Hawking and an entourage of caretakers boarded a Boeing 727 that roared out over the ocean and carved huge parabolic arcs in the sky, creating for passengers the "zero-gravity" effect of being in space.
Those blue flight suits sure were dark! That's not what the writer meant. He meant the color of the flight suits was dark blue. Dark-blue flight suits.