Archive for Crash blossoms

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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Driving waste for the world

The University of New South Wales wants you to know that it's driving waste, and also recycling innovation for the world.

It's not clear what either of those activities really are, and it's not easy to construe either of them as something to boast about.

UNSW seems to be taking a contrarian stance here — "driving waste" sounds like "working to create more garbage", or maybe "carting it away by the truckload" — and "recycling innovation" seems to mean "copying others' inventions". Not your typical 21st century academic slogans.

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What the dinosaurs discovered

…despite being annihilated, no less — from "A meteor from another solar system may have hit Earth, and the implications are fascinating", CNN 4/17/2019:

[h/t Bob Shackleton]

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Driver again dies

Ultimate indignity; ultimate crash blossom.

Headline in electrek:

"Tesla Model 3 driver again dies in crash with trailer, Autopilot not yet ruled out", by Fred Lambert (3/1/19)

In this case, the repeat demise would have been much more rapid than the extraordinarily prolonged one reported by Jen Viegas:

"Death Happens More Slowly Than Thought", Seeker (7/23/13), one cell at a time.

[h.t. yanggueiny]

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Deficit balloons are the new crash blossoms

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Roger Lustig, commenting the headline "Paul Ryan calls on Maxine Waters to apologize" (Sunlen Serfaty and Katherine Sullivan,CNN 6/26/2018):

At first I thought he'd gone over to her house and said he was sorry.

If only.

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Fake degree claims dog

Garden-path headline of the day — Stephen Burgen, "Fake degree claims dog prominent Spanish politicians", The Guardian 4/10/2018. By the usual rules of U.K. headlinese, it seem that the first four words should reference a dog that somehow played a key role in some fake degree claims. But no.

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What is Trump demanding now?

Here's a nice crash blossom (that is, a difficult-to-parse ambiguous headline) noted on Twitter by The Economist's Lane Greene, with credit to his colleague James Waddell. In The Financial Times, a promotion of an article inside (a "reefer" in newspaper-speak) is headlined: "Trump demands dog 'Dreamers' deal."

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Drink-drive killer girlfriend did what?

A tip from Twitter:

The headline: "Man who urinated on woman at Drake concert before drink-drive killer girlfriend started brawl over avoids jail", The Mirror 9/11/2017:

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Chad Childers, "Decapitated Members Arrested on Alleged Kidnapping Charges", Loudwire 9/10/2017. But will they be tried separately?

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Headline abuse of the month

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First Amendment in peril in Princeton?

Yesterday, Roger Lustig sent in a snapshot of the front page of the Princeton Packet, with the observation that

Maybe free speech, even the political kind, is in greater danger than we thought!

The online version of the headline is much longer, and not ambiguous in the same way: Philip Sean Curran, "PRINCETON: Police chief resists renewed calls to stop random license plate checks, focus more on speeding", The Princeton Packet 9/28/2016.


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