Thursday, January 31, 2013

I'll hyphen you

A week or so ago I noticed this little story from local UK paper The Kidderminster Shuttle pop up in my facebook feed:
A NEW gate installed on a Kidderminster footpath has been removed days after it was put in - for being too noisy. 
Exciting, I know.

One of the things I find rather touching about this story is the precision with which the quaint journalistic hyphen has been used in the opening sentence. I imagine you'd find similar examples in many newspaper articles about completely non-eventful events - you're reading something about an uninteresting interest rate, someone mowing their lawn, or a person sitting down in their chair, and - all of a sudden, hey presto! - there's a little hyphen, and the sentence has an effective dramatic pause. (Also admirable about this story was the finesse with which the journalist provided a picture, with the caption 'Replaced: The new gate that has been removed'. Observe the use of the journalistic colon...)

Today another exciting example of the journalistic hyphen popped up on facebook. This time, though, the dramatic pause wasn't followed so much by a non-event as a complete non-story. Check this out:
Julia Gillard sports ‘hipster' glasses at National Press Club
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard unveiled more than an election today - she also showed off a new pair of glasses.
The chutzpah with which the Herald Sun reporter there neatly sidesteps from an apparent headline to the actual story they wanted to talk about is quite breathtaking. You can just imagine the journalistic hyphen being deployed in other stories of world-shattering import:

The Fuhrer did more than just annex Austria yesterday - he unveiled a shiny new pair of shoes. 

Not only did Comrade Gorbachev announce Perestroika yesterday - he wore a snappy double-breasted dinner suit. 

Bin Laden attacks America - while wearing a stripey tie! 


Anonymous said...

I think of what you call a hyphen as a dash.

TimT said...

I know I know but 'journalistic dash' doesn't have the same ring to it. Sounds like what happens when you put a bottle of booze in front of a roomful of journos.

Anonymous said...

The hen can be used for erotic gratification by a bored stenographer.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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