Headline noun pile length contest entry


  1. John said,

    April 18, 2010 @ 8:55 pm

    Actually, I found that lede really easy to parse — I got it on the first reading. Also, only six? That can't be a record, can it?

    [(myl) Yes, the headline was pretty easy to understand — though someone not primed by the past week's news might find it a bit harder. And no, it's not nearly a record. But I thought it was a nice specimen, all the same.]

  2. John said,

    April 18, 2010 @ 9:08 pm

    Internet news headline noun pile length contest entry winner!

  3. Simon Cauchi said,

    April 18, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

    The last time we discussed this, I found a pile-up of nine nouns: "Profit Distribution Plan share buy back offer acceptance notice". But no doubt some even longer examples have been recorded.

  4. möngke said,

    April 18, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

    "Chaos" seems a bit misplaced in the original title, but they seem to have changed it since. No big damage done, though, because we now have the delightful "Volcano cloud Britons", which sounds like it could be a good name for a prog rock band (or at least a tune).

    I'm not sure whether VCB beats the famous "canoe wife" for semantic distance between head and modifier, though. Does a formal linguistic measure exist by which we could determine this? Would it even be meaningful?

  5. rhhardin said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 12:49 am

    "And then we have an interview with NHK broadcasting culture research institute media management researcher senior analyst Mr. Masayuki Ikeda on digital television broadcasting worldwide."

    real audio., NHK world service, Dec 5, 2003

    [(myl) Hello, Ron! And thank you.]

  6. Adrian Mander said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

    Internet news headline noun pile length contest entry winner upset by new challenger!

  7. Adrian Mander said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

    Ooops, now I get what a noun pile is. New submission: Internet news headline noun pile length contest entry winner upset fail!

  8. Nightstallion said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 1:21 pm

    Interestingly, I doubt that in my native German "Vulkanaschewolkenflugchaosmaßnahmen" would have seen print. ;)

  9. xyzzyva said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 1:51 pm


    But look how looong that word is. German is weird: it makes long words!

    end Germanic language family compound noun length orthographic convention ignorance sarcasm—

  10. Ruud said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

    You wouldn't see that headline in Dutch either: vulkaanaswolkvluchtchaosmaatregelen.

    @xyzzyva: The possibility to make these long words is one of the cool features of German and Dutch. You just can't say things like "Hottentottententententoonstelling" (http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hottentottententententoonstelling) quite as well in English. Also cool (but veering off-topic): having three consonants in a row by putting two nouns together: "jazzzanger" (Dutch for jazz singer), "Schifffahrt" (German for ship transport).

  11. Army1987 said,

    April 19, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

    @xyzzyva: "orthographic" definitely isn't a noun ("Germanic" might be), so make that "orthography" or "spelling"…

  12. Will said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 12:09 am

    @Ruud, a little googling and I find this: http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutwords/threeletters, which says that in most cases in English where a compound might cause three consecutive instances of the same consonant, a hyphen is used to prevent it, but then points out a few cases of such English words (according to the OED) that do not have to break with a hyphen:


    And http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_words_with_uncommon_properties#Doubled.2C_tripled.2C_and_quadrupled_letters lists some more considered valid by the OED:

    esssse (4 in a row! — but obsolete)

    It's interesting to note that the majority of these examples are XSSSHIP, that in all but three of these examples the sequence is SSS, and that the two outliers are both LLL.

    There are also the scrabble words BRRR and ZZZ, but those don't really count.

    And then there is this quote:

    In some fabrication plants, scrap is called offfall, though a hyphen (off-fall) is nearly universal. This suggests that similar material could be described as offfalllike.

  13. Army1987 said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    As a physicist, I read about cross sections quite often, but I don't recall ever seeing that spelled with no hyphen and no space.

  14. Ruud said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

    @Will: You're absolutely right, and I never meant to imply that three consonants in a row is unique to German or Dutch. I'm with Army1987 on "cross section", though. As a chemist and an astronomer, I'm also not familiar seeing it spelled without hyphen and space.

  15. Will said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

    Ruud — I wasn't trying to critique your statement. On the contrary, in fact. Jazzzanger is such a cool word that it inspired me to see if English had anything similar.

  16. G.Bryce said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

    I'd leave cloud, flight and chaos out of that headline.

    "Ministers mull volcano ash measures" strikes me sufficiently unclouded.

  17. G.Bryce said,

    April 20, 2010 @ 8:53 pm

    On the Dictionary.com forum on April 3, I commented on a headline that day on Yahoo's on-line news:

    "Spring break fall leaves star athlete dead"

    It took me several seconds to figure out. My mind interpreted the first and third words as a contrasting pair – springfall [just 'autumn' in British English, I believe] – and then the third and fourth words as a phrase, "fall leaves."

    In fact, the first six of the seven words can all be nouns (the 7th can too), and the first five can all be verbs.

    It' was actually saying that a star athlete died after falling from a balcony during his high school's spring break (vacation, holiday).

    Today, the headline reads "Matt James, top Irish signee, dead after spring break balcony fall (Updated)."

    See http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/blog/dr_saturday/post/Matt-James-top-Irish-signee-dead-after-spring-?urn=ncaaf,231916

  18. Army1987 said,

    April 23, 2010 @ 10:17 am

    I had guessed "leaves" was the verb right away, but then I couldn't understand what the hell a spring break fall was supposed to be, and I gave up and read on.

  19. Naskar said,

    April 23, 2010 @ 11:36 am

    Long time reader but first time commenter.
    I remember the most memorable all-noun headline that I have seen. "Foot heads arms leg body" and it was about a Mr. Foot taking charge of a nuclear arms group meeting. Top marks to the Editor who thought that up!

  20. Jeff B said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 3:19 pm

    6 nouns:

    "Slough sausage choke baby death woman jailed"


    Perhaps not the longest, but wins extra points for absurdity.

  21. Eric P Smith said,

    December 22, 2010 @ 5:45 pm

    I know this post is months old, but I only saw it today.

    In Newcastle-upon-Tyne around 1975 I saw the newspaper headline:
    Newcastle City Hospital Baby Death Probe Result.

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