Monday, February 07, 2011

The Dumb-Downed Theory of Hyphenation

According to the Hollywood Reporter (hey, I just happened to hit on it through a series of links; I don't have to explain myself to you) the word on the Beverly Hills street is that they're going to make a major motion picture adaption of Stephen King's post-apocalyptic epic, The Stand. I haven't read the novel, but I'm led to believe it is a post-apocalyptic epic worthy of major motion picture adaption. And apparently this isn't the first time the tale has been bound for the screen:
George Romero and Warners separately tried in vain to launch a movie adaptation in the 1980s, and a tone-downed version was produced as a six-hour miniseries by ABC in 1994. 
I'm sorry--a what version? Sure, you can make a case that a hyphenated compound should be treated as a single word for the purposes of past-tensifying--a "mutton-chopped" Civil War general, for instance--but "tone-downed" is an offense to the ear; it sounds like something a child who has been deprived of a Baby Einstein upbringing would say. "Toned-down version" would be the way to go. For that matter, I think you can even forgo the hyphen in this case and opt for the simple, austere "toned down version."