Archive for Crash blossoms

Headline puzzle of the day

Philip Taylor writes:

I have read this headline over and over again, and I still have absolutely no idea of what it means.

"Sir Patrick Vallance calls for net zero to have immediacy of search for Covid vaccine"

Can you do any better before reading the full article ?

Readers may want to try their luck before they hit "Read the rest of this entry" to see my guess.

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A lupine crash blossom from the Netherlands

Headline from NL Times (9 July 2023): "Sheep farmer injured after wolf attack in Wapse, ordered to be shot."

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Brit noun pile heds: "Crown" edition

While traveling in the UK, Nancy Friedman spotted the tabloid headline "CROWN DIANA CRASH OUTRAGE" on the front page of The Sun.

"Crash blossoms," as we've often discussed here on Language Log, are headlines that are so ambiguously phrased that they suggest alternate (comical) readings. (The headline that gave "crash blossoms" their name appeared in the newspaper Japan Today in 2009: "Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms." That referred to Diana Yukawa, a violinist whose father died in a 1985 Japan Airlines plane crash.) I'm not so sure this is a canonical crash blossom, since it's difficult to get even one plausible parsing from this headline, unless you're well-versed in the British journalistic tradition of "noun-pile heds," another frequent LL topic (see past posts here).

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Team Rubbish makes a striking claim

A recent Daily Beast spamletter featured an intriguing teaser:

The headline made me think that a faction of the Duchess of Cornwall's staff, known as "Team Rubbish", had made a startling accusation. The next sentence (and the linked article) set me straight.

So "Team Rubbish" is a classic Crash Blossom, caused as usual by noun/verb ambiguities. And in this case there's an added UK/US dimension: rubbish as a verb is mostly a British thing, as is the use of plural verb agreement with a singular subject that refers to a group.

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Today's Crash Blossom

From the Guardian's front page:

The linked story is here.

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Flop oil

Ruki Sayid & Ben Glaze, "Boris Johnson returns from Saudi Arabia empty handed after flop oil beg trip",  The Mirror 3/17/2022:

Boris Johnson is landing back in Britain empty-handed this morning after his oil begging trip to the Gulf flopped – and Vladimir Putin lashed out at the West.

Russia ’s invasion of Ukraine has fuelled price hikes with a litre of unleaded now more than £1.60, piling misery on British families already struggling with household bills.

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"…attacking members of the public found dead"

A striking example of the post-modifier attachment ambiguity: "Police officer jailed for attacking members of the public found dead", The Guardian 12/29/2021.

Bob Ladd, who sent in the link, spent "quite a few hundred milliseconds" puzzling about why the police officer had attacked dead people.

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Tesseract Space Stone

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Headline writers, crash blossom victims need your help

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Garden path of the day: Fish hearts as food?

I dimly remember a silly song about eating fish heads. And I'll confess to having used fish heads and other fillet leftovers to make soup. But I've never heard of eating fish hearts. In fact, I'm not sure that I've ever consciously seen a fish heart.

So I was taken aback by a recent (3/8/2021) MedPage Today headline that asked "Is Fish Heart Healthy Food? It Depends".

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UK Supreme Court plans an attack

A headline in today's Guardian tells us that "Supreme court plans an attack on independent judiciary, says Labour" — but you'll probably guess without even following the link that plans is a plural noun rather than a 3rd-person singular tensed verb, and that the phrase "Supreme court plans" probably refers to someone's plans for the court, rather than the court's plans for something.

But here's the first line of the story, anyhow:

Government-backed plans to reduce the size of the supreme court and rename it have been condemned by Labour as an assault on the independence of the judiciary.

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Lawyers set to be executed

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Headline failure of the week

"Female snipers in challenging filed operation"

Photo essay in China Military (8/30/20).

Below are the captions for the five photographs in the essay.  The scary, creepy, bizarre photographs are omitted in this post, but may be seen at this link, where you can also see the headline cited above.

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