Trump insults his rattle rivals

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FML writes that a headline in this morning's WSJ print edition "totally garden-pathed me":

But FML also notes that the headline for the same article on line is completely clear: "Donald Trump’s Insults Rattle Republican Rivals, Please Fans".



  1. Guy said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 10:51 am

    I suspect the garden-path is especially onerous to correct in this case because it requires you to change your mental pronunciation of "insults" to have the stress on the other syllable.

  2. Brett said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 10:59 am

    I had to read the title of this post twice to even seen that there was any oddity. I instantly parsed it as, "Insulting rattles rivals," with "insulting" as a noun. I was "anti-garden-pathed," getting the correct reading from something that was pretty unambiguously phrased wrongly.

  3. John Roth said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 11:03 am

    To get that you'd have to parse it as n, v, adj, n, rather than n(gen), n, v, n.
    I can see how the headlineese, leaving out the genitive marker, might get that interpretation.

    For the record, though, it not only didn't puzzle me, but I have a significant problem seeing how the n, v, adj, n interpretation would happen.

  4. djw said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 11:32 am

    I dunno; I think "rattle rivals" fits a lot of his competitors just as it is.

  5. KevinM said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 11:36 am

    I had some rattle rivals in my playpen.

  6. Bruce said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 12:41 pm

    I find the short version of the headline quite clear and consistent with Trump's behaviour.

    However, the crucial point is that there's no room for the long headline in the print edition. To to make sure that "insults" is a noun, all they needed to do was add the possessive:

    Trump's insults rattle rivals, please fans.

    That would still have required them to reduce the typesize slightly and so one can speculate that's why the 's was dropped.

  7. AM said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 1:00 pm

    Perhaps they were going for the Tweedledee and Tweedledum reference?

  8. Francois Lang said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

    It occurs to me also that I probably first read the paper headline as

    Trump Insults
    Battle Rivals [ not Rattle Rivals ]
    Please Fans

  9. Allan L. said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 2:17 pm

    He didn't spare his please fans, either.

  10. ZS said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 3:34 pm

    Another poorly constructed headline today that made me check my calendar:

    "Fiorina Moves to Secure Spot in Second G.O.P. Debate"

    Which parses equally well before and after the event. Is the key verb "moves" or "secure"?

  11. outeast said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 3:35 pm

    And in a similar vein there's a nice crash blossom that's been sitting on The Guardian's homepage all day: 'Novel Scarlett Johannson wanted banned due out in English.'

  12. Robot Therapist said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 5:29 pm

    I was defeated by this one today; it took me about three or four attempts:

    "A Cyclist's Track Stand Totally Befuddled One of Google's Self-Driving Cars"

  13. Gregory Kusnick said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 6:56 pm

    Perhaps Fiorina considers the Secure Spot a stepstone to the the Undisclosed Location.

  14. John Roth said,

    August 27, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

    @zs, it may parse either way, but it only makes sense one way: she's advancing to where she could secure a spot in the debate. The way these things go, there isn't anything like a secure spot actually inside the debate, except possibly behind the security minions.

  15. ZS said,

    August 28, 2015 @ 1:25 am

    @John Roth, I agree it only makes sense a one way as of today – but imagine researching the news one year from now. You'd have to also know the date of the second debate and check it against the article to be sure it's not saying that (presumably due to a strong performance in that debate) she had moved to a strong position in the race. It's not wrong as-is, just sloppy in my view.

  16. Mark S said,

    August 29, 2015 @ 2:06 pm

    "The Girls Turn on Caitlyn" from

    A lesbian transsexual?

  17. Piyush said,

    August 29, 2015 @ 8:00 pm

    @ZS: As someone who has not been paying a lot of attention to US politics, I wondered for a second who this new candidate Fiorina Moves is.

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