Defining "crash blossom"

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It's been suggested by some commenters that the headline discussed in this post of mine isn't really a crash blossom; see Boris, for example. What's the definition, then? Boris thinks crash blossoms must "have a possible reading with the intended meaning". But I think my case satisfies that criterion.

Originally (see this post of Ben Zimmer's) John McIntyre glossed the suggested term as "a word understood in a meaning other than the intended one", but that isn't a good enough effort at capturing the intuitive concept: lots of words can be misunderstood, but although I'm going to the bank contains a lexical ambiguity (financial institution vs. shore of a river), it's not a crash blossom. (Is it?)

Chris Waigl correctly (a) tied the notion to newspaper headlines (I understand that to be of the essence), and (b) made it clear that a whole phrase or sentence (not just a word) is involved, explaining fairly loosely that crash blossoms are "those train wrecks of newspaper headlines that lead us down the garden path to end up against a wall, scratching our head and wondering what on earth the subeditor might possibly have been thinking."

I figured that my example, a news headline containing the extraordinarily garden-path-leading word sequence proposed to by a lightning strike, met the definition squarely. But your mileage may differ (you can comment below). I'm merely a linguist; nobody put me in charge of the development of the lexicon or the emergence of new words or phrases. Even with phrases coined or publicized here on Language Log (eggcorn, snowclone, etc.), ultimately all I can do is follow wherever I am led by the sure tread of the expert native speakers who give words and phrases their currency and their stability.

At the end of the day, a word or phrase only has the meaning it has because you, in concert with millions of others, make it that way. If one day you all take at the end of the day to mean "ultimately" (and if you accepted the beginning of this paragrah, perhaps you already do), all I will be able to do is accept it. I won't be able to change it. It will have become ambiguous (since it still also means "at twilight time").

And by the way, that won't make it a crash blossom.

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57 Comments »

  1. John Lawler said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 10:30 am

    For the record (it's been almost a year now), the original, autodefining headline, from Japan Today, was
      Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms
    The article is here

  2. tRJ said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    Boris is confusing the requirements of a crash blossom with those of an eggcorn. The latter is an improper, but functional, replacement of words. The former is simply a phrase in which syntax creates an unintended meaning. The headline regarding lightning proposals certainly fits the definition.

  3. John McIntyre said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 10:43 am

    Chris Waigl has it exactly right.

    It seems to me that crash blossoms come in two flavors. One, like the original example, "Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms," is a garden-path misunderstanding that may be largely or completely opaque. The other, like the classic "Red tape holds up new bridge," is a garden-path ambiguity that is immediately recognizable and laughable. Both require an ambiguity of word or phrase. Your example, "Bethany Lott killed while being proposed to by a lightning strike in Knoxville," is a crash blossom of the latter variety.

  4. Theophylact said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 10:49 am

    For me, a crash blossom is a hed that induces a mental hiccup — a "What the fuck? Oh, I see" moment. I'm not convinced that any particular grammatical structure is required, only that sudden sense of disorientation.

  5. George said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 10:57 am

    I thought that a crash blossom is a headline (or whatever) that is syntactically ambiguous, especially one that tends to favor an unintended reading. So the lightning strike headline was a fine crash blossom, as it is ambiguous whether the "by a lightning strike" refers to the killing or the proposing, each of which leads to a completely different reading.

  6. Mark Liberman said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 11:08 am

    There are examples where both meanings involve the same syntactic structure, with the ambiguity being purely lexical. One that comes to mind is the headline allegedly used in the Harvard Crimson for an article about Harvard's president opposing the construction of a new office tower, "Pusey Fights Erection in Square". (I haven't been able to verify this, so it may be a headline that someone wished someone else had used. Nathan Pusey was president of Harvard from 1953 to 1971.)

    Headlines like that seem to belong in the same natural class as those where a lexical ambiguity leads to ambiguous syntactic structure ("Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms"), or where the only ambiguity is one of prepositional phrase attachment ("Bethany Lott killed while being proposed to by a lightning strike in Knoxville").

  7. Nick said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 11:13 am

    I always thought of a "classic" crash blossom as this recent one:

    Greece fears batter markets again

    The beauty of ones like these is that the parts of speech are bent, so "fears" becomes the verb and "batter" becomes a modifier of markets.

    Although ones with misplaced modifiers can be just as amusing, ones like above have an extra layer of deciphering it seems.

  8. Aaron Toivo said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 11:13 am

    Crash blossom: a garden-path news headline, most often one where the unintended reading is bizarre or unfortunate.

  9. Dan T. said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 11:15 am

    Perhaps the purely lexical variety needs a different name? To me, the concept of "crash blossom" implies some sort of syntactic misparsing, though there might also be lexical ambiguity involved as well. Something where the humor or confusion is just because of different meanings of a word (playing the same syntactic role in all cases) is a different sort of thing.

  10. Nick said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    @Dan T: crash blossom for one, crashed blossom for the other?

  11. Mark said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 12:27 pm

    Crash Blossom from today's New York Times:

    Talks to Reduce Whale Hunting Collapse
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/24/world/24whale.html?hp

  12. Boris said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 12:32 pm

    I see ambiguity repeated in almost every definition. "proposed to by a lightning strike" is not ambiguous. It only has one reading and not the correct one.

  13. James said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    I'm with George; at the very least the ambiguity must be syntactic. (I don't count myl's Crimson example as a crash blossom.) And garden path is a borderline requirement; to be a good example of a crash blossom, the reader must be led down the path.

  14. Josh said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

    To me, a crash blossom has to involve coming across an unexpected word or phrase, forcing your brain to "crash" and go back and reparse the sentence. Reparsing could result in a different syntactical structure, or a different lexical meaning. The farther you have to go back to find a sensible parsing, the better the crash blossom.

    Your lightning strike headline would definitely apply, and specifically because the author used "by" as the preposition. Since your brain just parsed "proposed to by" it's expecting a human actor who did the proposing. If you replaced "lightning strike" with "boyfriend", you'd have the same syntactical ambiguity (was the boyfriend the killer, proposer, or both?), but no crash blossom since either parsing is plausible.

    You could also change the preposition and get a bit more clarity, and perhaps avoid the crash blossom. Something like "Bethany Lott killed while being proposed to during a lightning strike in Knoxville"

  15. Boris said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 12:55 pm

    @Josh,
    I disagree. "Bethany Lott killed while being proposed to by boyfriend in Knoxville" clearly means the boyfriend was the proposer. This sentence says nothing about who the killer was.

  16. Mark F. said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

    Boris — No, that headline really is ambiguous. There is nothing that forces "being proposed to by a lightning strike" to be a unit. It is possible for both "while being proposed to" and "by a lightning strike" to modify "killed", which was what the writer meant. If you don't believe me, consider this:

    Person killed while eating by a lightning strike in Knoxville

    Part of the problem is that headlines don't have commas. I think this is a little clearer:

    A person was killed, while being proposed to, by a lightning strike in Knoxville

  17. John said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

    I think it requires a garden path, but in any case there must be two meanings. The cited example cannot be read to mean what the author intended it to mean; the syntax just can't work that way.

  18. 4ndyman said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

    I think we need to retain "garden path" and "crash blossom" as two separate terms with different definitions. Crash blossoms can be garden path headlines, but not all garden path headlines are crash blossoms.

    What always seemed essential to a crash blossom to me is the confusion that arises when a word or words can be used as multiple parts of speech. what makes the original crash blossom, "Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms," such a wonderful example is that "crash" can be read as a noun, verb, or adjective, and "blossoms" can be either a noun or a verb. It's a double-whammy in this case.

    But the quintessence of a crash blossom is (or, I think, should be) the part-of-speech confusion.

    The ambiguity in the "proposed to by lightning" headline arises from a badly placed phrase, not because a word can be read as being from multiple parts of speech. I would say that the lightning headline is a garden path statement, but not a crash blossom.

    [It doesn't seem right to say that crash "can be read as a noun, verb, or adjective". It can be a noun that is the head of a direct object NP and has JAL as an attributive modifier (the intended analysis); it can't be a verb with violinist linked to JAL as subject because the agreement form is wrong (it should be crashes); and it can be a noun functioning as attributive modifier of the head noun blossoms. (Attributive modifier function should not be confused with membership in the Adjective word class, though for 200 years traditional grammarians have been making the mistake of confusing those two concepts.) —GKP]

  19. Mel Nicholson said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    I share the feeling that "crash blossom" doesn't quite work to describe this.

    This example fits the old joke "He threatened to kill me in public" // "Why would he want to kill you in public?" In that case "in public" can bind with either verb, "kill" or "threaten".

    I use "crash blossoms" to refer to a different kind of binding error. The confusion isn't over what a particular item will bind to, but about whether it is binding versus bound. In the original example, crash either binds as an adjective or is bound as a verb.

    Looking back at a sampling of recent language log examples with the "crash blossom" tag set, they all seem to fit that pattern except the lightning bolt.

  20. Robert E. Harris said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

    "FINE FOR GEESE"

    found by my wife in the KC Star, many years ago.

    Maybe not a crash blossom, but hunters fined for illegal hunting, and so not so fine for geese.

  21. Mel Nicholson said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 1:58 pm

    I found a counterexample. "NY man seeking help for stray dog arrested for DWI" was also marked as a crash blossom. I'd rather not call that a crash blossom, but I've passed the point of overthinking so I don't trust the semantic * I want to put on that.

  22. Boris said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    "Person killed while eating by a lightning strike in Knoxville"
    No, this person was eating near a lightning strike. There is no other meaning (now I would *understand* this properly, as I also would the original, but as much as I would understand a sentence with a grammatical error in it).

    "A person was killed, while being proposed to, by a lightning strike in Knoxville"
    Ok (if very odd), but without commas it doesn't work.

  23. Ben said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

    @John said "The cited example cannot be read to mean what the author intended it to mean; the syntax just can't work that way."

    I don't see why you assert that.

    The syntax of English does allow a series of prepositional phrases to all modify a single head. Consider:

    Mr. Boddy was killed by Professor Plum in the Dining Room with the Candlestick.

    Mr. Boddy was killed by Professor Plum.
    Mr. Boddy was killed in the Dining Room.
    Mr. Boddy was killed with the Candlestick.

    Now consider:

    Bethany Lott was killed while being proposed to by a lightning strike in Knoxville.

    Bethany Lott was killed while being proposed to.
    Bethany Lott was killed by a lightning strike.
    Bethany Lott was killed in Knoxville.

    The syntax most definitely allows the intending meaning. The problem here is not syntax — it is the fact that "being proposed to" is immediately followed with "by", which strongly signals that the coming "by" phrase modifier should be attached to "proposed to" and not to something mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, it is not a syntactic restriction. It is just a strong interpretation signal based on experience with using the language.

    All that being said, I still don't think this qualifies as a crash blossom. I agree with Mel Nicholson's analysis.

  24. unekdoud said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 3:37 pm

    For me, a crash blossom is where the process of hed-ing creates a second reading of a sentence. From the previous comments and articles I see certain defining forms:

    1. Noun misread as verb, verb misread as noun, etc.
    2. Unfortunate choice of words which lead to point 1.

  25. unekdoud said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

    (continued)
    1b. Alternatively, a binding error (or other garden path effects) due to readers' tendency to parse the headline a certain way.
    2b. Alternatively, an unfortunate choice of sentence structure.
    2c. Alternatively, an unfortunate choice of omitted "is","the","says", etc.
    3. Humorous or confusing reading may result from point 1. (That's what makes crash blossoms fun!)

  26. Breffni said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

    If "crash blossom" ever gains any general currency, I bet it'll mean nothing more precise than "ambiguous headline whose most salient reading is absurd", and maybe just "badly phrased headline". Not many people are going to make nice distinctions between, say, lexical and structural ambiguities.

    But if the lightning strike and original "JAL" examples are to count as crash blossoms, I don't think Chris Waigl's implied link with garden path sentences is helpful. As I understand it, the originally intended sense of "garden path sentence" is the same as Wikipedia's: it's a syntactic dead-end, not a semantic one — "At some point, it becomes clear to the reader that they have been constructing an incorrect structure; the next word or phrase cannot be incorporated into the structure built up thus far". So a garden-path sentence isn't merely an ambiguous one, contra Sperber & Wilson, who label "I saw that gasoline can explode" a garden-path sentence.The Wikipedia article has plenty of fine examples of (what I think of as) real garden-path sentences.

  27. Ben said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

    Boris, if Bethany decided to eat an armed bomb, does the following sentence sound syntactically correct to you?

    "Bethany was killed while eating in an extraordinary blast of light and fire."

    This sounds fine to me, so if it doesn't sound fine to you, the issue here is probably a simple dialectal variation in syntax relating to the word "while".

  28. Boris said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

    @Ben,
    I don't understand. Eating an armed bomb? What does that have to do with the sentence? I do get two possible readings from your sentence. Eather she was eating in the blast or she was killed in it.

    "Mr. Boddy was killed with the Candlestick."
    To me this one doesn't work. I only get the reading that she was killed in the room with the candlestick.

  29. Nathan said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 5:49 pm

    @Boris: What is your first language?

  30. stevesp101 said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

    I think Boris is just being contrary now. To suggest that there is no other reading than the one Boris accepts (because of some peeve about writing conventions) is intellectually dishonest.

    [(myl) It seems that we have a troll.

    The search capabilities in COCA make it easy to find real-world examples of the patterns Boris claims are impossible, e.g.

    In April 1994, a female jogger was killed by a lion in a California state park near Sacramento. And four years ago, near Idaho Springs, Colorado, a high school boy was killed while jogging by a young male cougar.

    Each year, more than 8,000 people ages 15-24 are killed in the USA with firearms.

    These seem unproblematic to me, as do the constructed examples given by others. I suggest that further troll-feeding is probably unwarranted.]

  31. Ben said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

    @Boris, the preliminary sentence I introduced only to supply context for the example sentence. Maybe I should have come up with a better example.

    Regarding the Candlestick, that's a reference to the board game Clue (that's why I'm capitalizing it). In Clue, the Candlestick is a weapon. If I had substituted "the Gun" (another possible weapon from Clue), your reading might be different.

    "Mr. Boddy was killed by Professor Plum in the Dining Room with the Gun."

    In this instance, do you still necessarily interpret "with the Gun" as only being able to modify "Dining Room", and not "Mr. Boddy was killed"? If so, then your parsing of "with the Candlestick" is indeed a syntactic restriction (and one that I don't have in my dialect). If not, then it's just a semantic distinction (one that I also don't have, but only because of my familiarity with Clue).

  32. John said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

    @Ben,

    While it is possible to have multiple prep phrases with a single head, this sentence:

    Bethany Lott was killed while being proposed to by a lightning strike in Knoxville.

    cannot be read to have "by a lightning strike" modify "was killed." The "while" clause seems to me to be the issue, though I'm sure I can't nail it down to a rule. (Perhaps it's that the verbal form "being proposed to" must be the head of the subsequent adv prep phrase? How about "Col. Mustard was killed while eating with the pipe wrench"?)

    The sentence can only be taken to mean what the author intended if you punctuate it (with em-dashes?) so as to make the while clause an interruption. To me, the way it's written now can only mean that the strike did the proposing, not that it did the killing. I can see what the author intended (based on the nonsensical semantics), but recognize the sentence as mal-formed.

    (PS I agree with Breffni about garden-path sentences: they don't work if you follow the path.)

  33. Carl said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 11:04 pm

    To me, it's too easy to figure out the correct reading of the lightning strike headline. In a good crash blossom you should be paralyzed by an inability to understand how the headline could be made to make sense.

  34. Mel Nicholson said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 12:22 am

    I just reread my comment of earlier. It would have been better to use the syntax around "blossom" rather than crash, since the noun/verb ambiguity seems to be at the center of the crash blossoms that fit my intuition. Reading the comments here, the feeling seems to be shared, but far from universal.

    I was wondering whether the small size of the dialect group made the term less subject to bleaching (i.e. taking on less specific semantics). For that matter, does the academic domain push toward more specificity?

  35. Windowless Monad said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 1:08 am

    Just to add to the collection, from today's news: Miners jump on Gillard (http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/24/2935751.htm).

    [One needs to know that (a) in Australian English stocks of mining companies are known as "miners"; (b) jump can mean "rapidly increase in market value"; (c) Julia Gillard has just become prime minister of Australia; (d) on is commonly used in financial journalism to mean "immediately after and thus possibly caused by"; and (e) through (a rather extreme form of) metonymy, the name of a person could, I suppose, be used to denote the news of that person's accession to power, so that on Gillard could mean "immediately after and thus possibly caused by the news of Julia Gillard's accession to power". It's a bit of a stretch, though. And it might be worth keeping in mind that there is a vein of loutish and crude male sexism in Australian life that could well lead to this sort of double-entendre being deliberately intended — a schoolboyish joke rather than an accidental crash blossom. (Not that every crash blossom has to be accidental, of course. I'm just saying that this headline seems very forced and the reading that has men in mining hats jumping on a woman politician is too salient for any copy editor to doubt that the headline would be read literally by about 100% of readers. —GKP]

  36. Rubrick said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 5:09 am

    I feel that a canonical crash blossom is one where two or more words are parsed as a coherent phrase, when in fact they are not, such as in the original "Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms", or my find, "Google fans phone expectations by scheduling Android event". But I think the term applies nicely to any garden-path headline.

    I recall one headline from my youth that was momentarily impenetrable, not because it was in any way ungrammatical or ambiguous, but because of the very sound of the words: "Dredging unsnarls barge clog". Somehow this sequence of phonemes sounded like complete nonsense at first.

  37. Carl said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 8:06 am

    I have always thought a "true" crash blossom has to go beyond a simple misreading. The sentence needs to be actually uncomfortable to read, or require multiple readings to comprehend. So a headline like "Man gives head to science museum" can be read two ways but it isn't a crash blossom because both ways are comfortable to read. Something like "Car makes influence buyers" might be a crash blossom for some people.

  38. Neal Goldfarb said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 9:08 am

    What's fascinating to me about the comments here is that, taken collectively, they present a case study in what might be called ideolexical semantics.

    It seems that everyone has their own view of what qualifies as a crash blossom:

    at the very least the ambiguity must be syntactic.

    What always seemed essential to a crash blossom to me is the confusion that arises when a word or words can be used as multiple parts of speech….[T]he quintessence of a crash blossom is (or, I think, should be) the part-of-speech confusion.

    I use "crash blossoms" to refer to a different kind of binding error. The confusion isn't over what a particular item will bind to, but about whether it is binding versus bound.

    "NY man seeking help for stray dog arrested for DWI" was also marked as a crash blossom. I'd rather not call that a crash blossom….

    I feel that a canonical crash blossom is one where two or more words are parsed as a coherent phrase, when in fact they are not, such as in the original "Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms", or my find, "Google fans phone expectations by scheduling Android event".

    None of these different conceptions is defensible as an account of what crash blossom "really means." They're all basically expressions of personal usage or preference, as some of the comments seem to recognize ("I use 'crash blossoms' to refer to…."; "I'd rather not call that a crash blossom").

    What's happening here, I think, is that people are trying to formulate necessary and sufficient conditions for something (the extension of crash blossom) that is better explained in terms of prototypes and family resemblances.

    It's also interesting to see people talking about "canonical" and "classic" examples of crash blossoms considering that we're dealing with a made-up term that's only been in existence for a year.

  39. Boris said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 9:10 am

    Ok, I'm not a troll. I was just posting my feelings about language. My first language (in terms of the first language I learned) was Russian, but my first language (as in the one I speak best today) is English, which I have been speaking for 19 years now (I'm 30 years old). I am well aware that things like what is being discussed (different order of modifiers) are actually more common in Russian (though perhaps not this particular one) which perhaps makes me more sensitive in seeing them as "wrong" in English. I will now shut up since apparently my feelings are incorrect.

  40. James said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 10:17 am

    Neal, I don't understand why you think a term that's been around for only a year can't have canonical examples. Surely the JAL headline is itself a canonical example!

  41. mollymooly said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 10:31 am

    What's the opposite of a Crash Blossom? Yesterday's Evening Herald had a headline running across four lines: "Woman in sumo wrestler suit assaulted her ex-girlfriend in gay pub after she waved at man dressed as a Snickers Bar". The headline takes up more space than the rest of the story. I'm surprised they even bothered with a rest-of-the-story. The online version has a shorter headline, which suggests that physical paper is cheaper than virtual paper.

  42. Evan Harper said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 10:36 am

    "Carp Found By Lake Michigan Renews Call For Action" is a double whammy. Not only can it be read as saying that Lake Michigan found a carp, but as far as I can see it has no grammatical reading that does not imply that the carp, itself, renewed a call for action.

  43. Amy F. said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

    How about one of my favorite Yahoo! headlines from June 2004:

    Caterpillar population explodes in Mass.

    I couldn't resist printing the page and have it posted in my office.

  44. Ellen said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    I think a crash blossom has to have syntactical ambiguity which results in two distinctly different meanings for the headline. While lexical ambiguity often contributes, I don't see it as necessary.

  45. Chandra said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

    mollymooly – That four-line headline still contains an ambiguity; was the "she" who waved at the man dressed as a Snickers bar the woman in the Sumo suit, or the ex-girlfriend?

  46. Noni Mausa said,

    June 24, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

    Saw one today, for your "Huh?" pleasure:

    "Train kills 12 taking short cut to night party in Spain"

    Oh, those trains! they have no patience when it comes to parties.

    http://www.vancouversun.com/Train+kills+taking+short+night+party+Spain/3197311/story.html#ixzz0rodnlYAa

  47. Army1987 said,

    June 25, 2010 @ 6:29 am

    "At the end of the day" is even more ambiguous than that: since "day" can mean "24-hour period" as well as "time when the sun is above the horizon", it could also mean "at or just before midnight"… :-)

  48. danny bloom said,

    June 25, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

    "…..And danbloom was quick to set up a blog to collect examples of "infelicitously worded headlines."…."

    Actually, I coined the word, if truth be told…..

  49. danny bloom said,

    June 25, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

    Ben Zimmer, NY Times: "…..Mike O’Connell, an American editor based in Sapporo, Japan, spotted the headline “Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms” and wondered, “What’s a crash blossom?” …..Another participant in the forum, Dan Bloom, suggested that “crash blossoms” could be used as a label for such infelicitous headlines that encourage alternate readings, and news of the neologism quickly spread."

  50. blahedo said,

    June 25, 2010 @ 4:15 pm

    The most recent example (re the lightning strike) really just seems like an attachment ambiguity that would have been quite present even in a non-headline version of the statement (although, as noted, commas would have helped). If "crash blossom" is to be a useful term of art that means just more than "funny ambiguous headline", I think we have to look to the vagaries of headlinese—in particular, the fact that articles are often dropped and verbs are usually in the present tense, leading to less access to redundant syntactic cues in identifying words' lexical categories.

  51. John Cowan said,

    June 25, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

    It seems, then, that crash blossom names a prototypical category rather than a classical one: there are features which mark a headline as a crash blossom, but which ones it must have and which ones are optional is a question without an answer.

  52. Jeff Parker said,

    June 25, 2010 @ 5:40 pm

    I can't find the Submit Crash Blossom pane.

    "RI man accused of duping Mass. nuns held on bail"

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/rhode_island/articles/2010/06/25/ri_man_accused_of_duping_mass_nuns_held_on_bail/

  53. Danny Bloom said,

    June 27, 2010 @ 7:08 am

    Have something to submit? The bloke (and it is not me) who runs this site says:

    e-mail it to submit@crashblossoms.com

    (if you can provide a source, great) or post on Twitter tagged with #crashblossoms.

  54. Danny Bloom said,

    June 27, 2010 @ 7:08 am

    http://www.crashblossoms.com

  55. Danny Bloom said,

    June 27, 2010 @ 7:10 am

    Btw, off topic but don't know where to post this so here:

    Michael Quinion in the UK posts and asks: An English teacher in Japan named Daniel James tells about an odd
    assertion by some of his students of English. Recently he was discussing bad
    manners concerning chopsticks, and he had written that a person should
    not hold "chopsticks and a bowl" in the same hand.

    One of his Japanese students, an adult, was
    adamant that it should be "a bowl and chopsticks". She and other
    students said that when they were children at school in Japan ……shortly
    after World War Two …..they and all Japanese kids were taught that nouns in English should be
    put in alphabetical order.

    Even after Mr James showed them collocations
    such as "ladies and gentlemen", "salt and pepper" and "fish and
    chips", his students wouldn't budge. Anybody have any info or ideas
    about how this curious preconception arose?

    Does it apply also in Taiwan? In China? In all of Asia? Que pasa?

    Why do we say:"Ladies and gentlemen" and not "Gentlemen and ladies"?

    traditionally society has had a "ladies first" mindset.. and the expression "Ladies and Gentlemen" came out of that mentality.. the feminist movement changed the idea of "ladies first" in their quest for equality, but the expression still remains..

    A Japanese friend tells Danny Bloom just now:

    "No, I've never learned and even heard such a thing."

    "John, Paul, George, and Ringo" is wrong ? NO WAY

    "George, John, Paul, Ringo" is
    right ? NO WAY John and Paul would've been pissed off.

    Rhythm and blues, wrong ?

    Blues and rhythm, uh, what's that ?

    Hidetoshi , Tokyo, age 51

  56. chris said,

    June 28, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

    Each year, more than 8,000 people ages 15-24 are killed in the USA with firearms.

    Even John Lennon never imagined a USA without firearms (as far as I know).

  57. Mark Dowson said,

    July 12, 2010 @ 10:24 am

    Given that the definition of Crash Blossom seems to be a matter of taste, I can't resist citing the Guardian headline (from many years ago) above a story about violent events in Turkey: Kurds Give Way

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