Archive for Crash blossoms

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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Who's seeking damages from whom?

Ambiguous headline:

"Chinese Citizen Files New Lawsuit Against Authorities Seeking COVID-19 Damages", by Frank Fang (August 13, 2020 Updated: August 13, 2020)

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Chris Waigl helps fire managers

Chris Waigl is a longtime friend of Language Log — among her many accomplishments is the creation of the Eggcorn Database in 2005 (with contributions from Arnold Zwicky and me). These days she conducts post-doctoral research in the Boreal Fires team of the Alaska EPSCoR Fire and Ice project at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and she also teaches in the UAF College of Natural Science and Mathematics. Recently on Facebook, Chris shared an article from the Anchorage NBC affiliate, KTUU Channel 2, about the team she works with at UAF. The headline for the article is striking: "Alaskan-developed satellite technology helps fire managers in COVID-19 era."

As Vadim Temkin asked Chris on Facebook, "Why are you firing poor managers?"

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"Hospitals named after sandwiches kill five"

Sherlocution Holmes is an entertaining UK-based Twitter presence with a bio that reads, "Consultant detective tracking down the best (and worst!) linguistics and language examples." Many of the tweets are humorous illustrations of structural or semantic ambiguity, including many examples of "crash blossoms" — those double-take headlines that are ambiguous enough to be laughably misinterpreted. Here's one popular recent tweet.

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