Tuesday, July 02, 2002

On Balance

A belated corporate-malfeasance item:

Enron got in trouble for activities that were off its balance sheet, or off-balance-sheet activities. The hyphen-phobic write of off-balance sheet activities, which sounds more like a description of what happens when you go to bed drunk.

A more common error by those afraid of putting more than one hyphen in a sentence is the botching of the adjectival form for ages. A man who is 24 years old is a 24-year-old man. What, then, is a 24-year old man? That would be someone who's been an old man for 24 years. And 24 year-old men? A very odd way to refer to two dozen baby boys.