Dead and marching

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Neil MacFarquar, "A Parade Hailing Russia’s World War II Dead and Marching Further From the West", NYT 5/7/2015.

This should be easy, given the parallelism "hailing … and marching", but parallelism isn't always enough.

Rick Rubenstein, who sent in the link, writes:

I think what caused me so much trouble is that the (correct) reading has no verb, present or implied; the whole headline is a single NP. That’s unusual, so I kept seeking an elided “is”. The parade is dead and marching? The parade, which hails the dead and marching, is further from the west? Huh?

This would have been much clearer if they’d used the simple present instead of the present participle: “A Parade Hails Russia’s World War II Dead and Marches Further From the West”.

Or even "A Parade Hailing Russia’s World War II Dead Marches Further From the West".

Contra Rick, there could be an implied verb, e.g. "A Parade will be Hailing Russia’s World War II Dead and Marching Further From the West". But I agree that this one is easy to get tangled up on — maybe part of the reason is that parades involve literal marching, but in this case the marching is metaphorical.

Obligatory screenshot:


  1. Ginger Yellow said,

    May 8, 2015 @ 6:51 am

    Is parade typically a valid Subject for march? It reads badly to me. People march on parade, parades don't generally march. But maybe it's different in AmE.

  2. mikegrubb said,

    May 8, 2015 @ 8:23 am

    I don't see parallelism between "hailing" and "marching", but marching as the second coordinated object of hailing. Rewritten to illustrate: "A Parade Hailing Russia's Marching Further from the West and [Russia's] World War II Dead". FWIW

  3. David L said,

    May 8, 2015 @ 8:36 am

    I still don't understand what the headline is aiming to say — the parade is marching further from the west? Not literally that the parade is headed toward Vladivostok rather than St Petersburg, I assume. The parade is marching metaphorically further from the west? What does that mean? And yes, I know Russia is distancing itself politically from the west, but I don't see how to construe the headline to get that meaning. Am I supposed to take the parade as a metonym for Russia?

  4. Mark F. said,

    May 8, 2015 @ 8:59 am

    The New York Times has a headline style all its own, and the Noun Phrase Headline is one if its hallmarks.

  5. cameron said,

    May 8, 2015 @ 9:46 am

    I read it as meaning that the parade is hailing two things, the marching (further from the west) and the WWII dead.

  6. Gary Coen said,

    May 8, 2015 @ 10:07 am

    This morning's NYT announces a "Sweeping Win for Cameron in Britain" in a noun phrase headline which seems easier to comprehend without yesterday's wobbly parallel construction with present participles.

    The economics of journalism often produces a headline style that eschews verbs when a noun phrase will do on the principle that every word is enormously expensive. This explains the noun phrase headline, which typically saves on word count compared to clausal headlines. Even so, better editorial judgement could have improved readability and cost if "A Parade Hailing Russia’s World War II Dead and Marching Further From the West" (14 words) had been replaced by "A Parade Hailing Russia’s World War II Dead Marches Further From the West" (13 words), as Mark Liberman suggested.

  7. Bobbie said,

    May 8, 2015 @ 12:03 pm

    I still don't get it. (I have not read the article yet.) Has the parade been moved further east? Or has Russia moved further from the Western powers in its stance?

  8. Vasha said,

    May 8, 2015 @ 2:24 pm

    The article analyzes the symbolism of the choices made in designing the parade and the rhetoric of the talk about the victory celebrations and argues that the parade is emblematic (and communicative) of Russia's growing hostility to Europe. But I agree that the headline's attempt to sum this up with a clever metaphor by saying that the parade is "marching further from the West" fell a bit flat.

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