Missing woman remains found

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From the Hackney Gazette:

In some other place and time, perhaps there was a headline "Missing moonshine still discovered".

h/t Anton Cox, who wrote:

Although I am a big fan of Language Log, I may be too much of a Brit to get much from most of the crash-blossom posts (I never read them the wrong way in the first place). But this seems a bit special.

In other news, the Mirror achieved a nine-noun pile-up:

(For the back-story, see "Class war skimishes in England", 11/26/2014.


  1. Jeroen Mostert said,

    January 11, 2015 @ 6:40 pm

    Oh, that is beautiful, it easily contends with my personal all-time favorite ("British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands"). Not enough to dethrone it, but it's up there. So obvious when you see it, and yet I've never seen its like. Obviously, many headlines involving "remains found" are ambiguous, but it takes the "missing" to bring it out. And it would have been so easy to avoid too, if headline editors weren't so adamantly opposed to possessives ("missing woman's remains found"). I wish "missing moonshine still discovered" had been an actual headline, as that isn't so easily tarnished by attempts to fix it.

  2. D.O. said,

    January 11, 2015 @ 8:45 pm


  3. Brett said,

    January 11, 2015 @ 8:48 pm

    I didn't even see the joke the first time I read the hed. I just thought the post was going to be about the missing possessive.

  4. Shlomo Argamon said,

    January 11, 2015 @ 10:44 pm

    The Mirror needs a better headline writer. It should have been: "White van man Tweet row Labour MP Emily Thornberry upset found branded snob."

  5. Peter said,

    January 12, 2015 @ 7:22 am

    @Shlomo: it can be nounified still further. “White van man Tweet row Labour MP Emily Thornberry: snob branding “upsetting”.”

  6. Robert Coren said,

    January 12, 2015 @ 10:32 am

    @Jeroen Mostert: I had trouble reading your favorite aloud to my husband because I was laughing too hard. My personal favorite — mostly because I actually saw it in the wild, in a US newspaper — is "Study shows smoking riskier than thought".

  7. bratschegirl said,

    January 12, 2015 @ 3:57 pm

    If the remains vanish from the funeral home, will the headline be "Found Woman Remains Missing"?

  8. Jerry Friedman said,

    January 12, 2015 @ 5:13 pm

    “White van man Tweet row Labour MP Emily Thornberry snob branding upset” follows the rules, unless I'm mistaken, and has the advantage of lacking any punctuation or non-noun words that might help the reader.

    However, speaking of rules, can we really count "Emily Thornberry" as two nouns?

  9. David Morris said,

    January 12, 2015 @ 8:19 pm

    @Robert Coren: One man read so much about the dangers of smoking that he decided to give up reading.

  10. dw said,

    January 13, 2015 @ 2:47 am


  11. Michael Watts said,

    January 13, 2015 @ 4:44 am

    "British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands" is a classic, but my personal favorite of the genre is "Iraqi Head Seeks Arms".

  12. David Morris said,

    January 13, 2015 @ 6:06 am

    And maybe Thought is more dangerous than thought!

  13. AB said,

    January 13, 2015 @ 8:53 am


  14. John Lawler said,

    January 13, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

    Think how much difference to be would make in the headline:


    Hardly news, after all.

    Though the remain to be construction is interesting.

  15. MikeW said,

    January 13, 2015 @ 2:50 pm

    Two of my favorites I've run across:
    Arizona wildfire sets new record- Police question two on fire
    Cops: Deputies shoot, kill man with knives at Calif. court

  16. Rodger C said,

    January 15, 2015 @ 7:51 am

    Petitions not sufficient to block sewers.

  17. James L said,

    January 15, 2015 @ 1:45 pm

    "Bus on fire, passengers alight"

  18. Yuval said,

    January 16, 2015 @ 3:03 pm

    @James – in Hebrew there's much less trouble to this specific ambiguity: through chance, the past 3rd person plural forms for "(were) toasted" and "(were) saved" are the same – ניצלו. Incidentally, only this week I saw such a headline ("Miracle: bus caught fire, 15 children were saved/toasted").

    @Michael Watts – but that's just simple lexical ambiguity. The Falklands one, as well as the remains, are syntactic botch heaven.

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