Archive for Headlinese

China rules

For the last few weeks, the New York Times has been running a hyped-up, gushing series of lengthy articles under the rubric "China rules". On a special section in the paper edition for Sunday, November 25, they printed this gigantic headline in Chinese characters — and made a colossal mistake:

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Deficit balloons are the new crash blossoms

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Colorless green vaccine-laced M&Ms

Commenting on the (7/12/2016) headline "US government plans to use drones to fire vaccine-laced M&Ms near endangered ferrets", Joyeuse Noëlle on Tumblr noted that

The best part of this title is that in the second half, each new word is completely unpredictable based on what comes before it.

“US government plans to use drones to fire” okay, I see where this is going

“vaccine-laced” wait

“M&Ms” what

“near” not ‘at’?

“endangered” what

“ferrets” what

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Multiscriptal, multilingual Hong Kong headline

Bob Bauer sent in this photograph of a recent headline from a Hong Kong newspaper:

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Dead mouse admits lying?

"Dead mouse in protein supplement claimant admits lying", BBC News 2/7/2018:

A man has admitted to lying about buying a pack of protein powder containing a dead mouse.

Adam Brenton tweeted criticism of Myprotein Impact Diet Whey seller The Ltd and contacted local press with his claims.

The story was widely republished but "unequivocal" evidence proved the mouse was not present at delivery.

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Headline puzzle of the week

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Belfast noun pile headline head-scratcher

This head-scratcher of a headline from the Belfast Telegraph was brought to our attention by Mike Pope: "Ed Murray: Sex abuse claim US mayor's time in Northern Ireland 'should be probed'".

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Dophin sightseeing

Headline in the China Daily today (5/28/17):

"Dophin sightseeing in China's Taiwan".

As my colleague, Arthur Waldron, trenchantly remarked:  "They fear a dauphin. This may be an omen."

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Resisting reunification

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Headline abuse of the month

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Noun pile of the week

"Corpse sex kill threat prisoner gets 45 year sentence", BBC 12/14/2016.

This is a case where even after reading the story, the structure is unclear.

Is it [[[corpse sex] [kill threat]] prisoner] ?

Or [[[corpse [sex kill]] threat]] prisoner] ?

Or has the BBC decided, in this post-truth era, to go post-syntax as well?

Philip Cummings, who sent in the link, commented that

I call these ‘noun car crashes’ particularly when I have to attempt to translate them into Irish and work out the appropriate case relationships between the various nouns.

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British headlinese: Grammar lesson

From Eric Smith:

"Police appeal after teenage girls kissed and touched in alleged bus incident", Isle of Wight County Press, 3/24/2016.

In today's enlightened society, why shouldn't teenage girls kiss and touch?

I think this illustrates that, in a British headline

* if a verb form is ambiguous as between a preterite tense and a past participle, the past participle is probably what is meant;

* if the syntax is ambiguous as between a standard sentence and an abbreviated sentence, the abbreviated sentence is probably what is meant.

As a secondary point, I suspect that "appeal" is intended as a noun, so that "Police appeal" is a nominal and not a clause.

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Future in Headlinese

Funny headline on a Yahoo news story: "Ford stops using Takata air bag inflators in future vehicles". To me that says that they used to use Takata air bags in future vehicles. How did that work?

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