FML writes that a headline in this morning's WSJ print edition "totally garden-pathed me":
Archive for Crash blossoms
Lamiat Sabin, "Man rattled by python found coiled up and hiding in his box of cornflakes", The Independent 3/9/2015.
A man claims to have had a real-life kitchen nightmare after he saw a long coiled-up snake poke its head out of his box of cereal.
Jarred Smith, 22, was making lunch on Tuesday when he spotted the two-metre diamond python hiding inside the open cornflakes package – according to the Daily Telegraph in Australia.
Yuxi Liu writes:
I thought it meant a man was so rattled by python that he coiled up in his box of cornflakes.
I hope this can provide some laughs on Language Log.
From Stephen Dodson:
It took me a minute to parse this headline correctly:
Bill Pennington, "‘Like Putting on Broccoli,’ or Cauliflower, and Results Are Bumpy", NYT 6/20/2015.
Emily Cahn, "Sanchez Stumbles Prompt SoCal Angst", Roll Call 5/20/2015 — Linda Seebach writes "I lived in LA for a couple of years, and can readily believe that SoCal angst is unusually prompt to appear."
A headline writer is apparently economizing on punctuation: Nomaan Merchant, "Police: 9 dead in Texas shooting all members of biker gangs", MyFoxDetroit (AP).
Jen Chung, "CT High School Slut Shames Students Over "Inappropriate" Prom Dresses", Gothamist 5/12/2015:
Female students at a Connecticut High School are furious that dresses bought for this weekend's prom are being banned because they have exposed shoulders, backs, sides and legs. One mother—whose daughter had two dresses rejected—said, "They've suggested the girls wear T-shirts under their dresses. My daughter won't wear a T-shirt. She would be mortified."
Neil MacFarquar, "A Parade Hailing Russia’s World War II Dead and Marching Further From the West", NYT 5/7/2015.
This should be easy, given the parallelism "hailing … and marching", but parallelism isn't always enough.
"Crash blossoms" — those ambiguously phrased headlines that encourage absurd interpretations — are flourishing like never before. Here's a roundup of the latest specimens spotted in the wild.
1. "Matt Cassel trade a simple, cheap bandage for Bills QB problem" (CBS Sports, Mar. 4, 2015)
Attachment ambiguity strikes again! Originally the headline was "Screenwriter Graham Moore reveals he tried to commit suicide during 2015 Oscars acceptance speech for 'The Imitation Game'". Now it's "Screenwriter Graham Moore reveals during Oscars acceptance speech for 'The Imitation Game' that he tried to commit suicide at 16", Daily News 2/23/2015. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Prepositional phrase attachment is one of the hardest things for English parsers to get right: if I hit a man with a bag of groceries, was that bag of groceries the instrument of my action, or was it just something the guy was carrying when I attacked him?
And PP-attachment ambiguity is especially common in English-language headlines, since omitted forms of to be add additional ambiguous attachment points.
For example, Alex Barker, "EU reforms to break up big banks at risk", Financial Times 1/29/2015: Are the reforms at risk, or are the reforms on track to break up banks that are at risk?
Jose Pagliery and Frank Pallotta, "Hacked news companies tweet Chinese fired on U.S. warship", CNN 1/16/2015:
[h/t Dmitri Ostrovsky]