Train wreck crash blossom

« previous post | next post »

If you knew the background, you could see this one coming: "Welcome Replaces Costly for Honduras", NYT 5/10/2010:

The obligatory screen shot:

The unfortunate headline-writer could have gone with "Honduras Swaps Costly for Welcome". No, wait, how about "Welcome for Costly Swap by Honduras"?

Some publications just gave up and went with the wordplay: "Costly blow as Hunduras striker ruled out of World Cup"; "Welcome boost for Honduras striker".

Maybe this is connected to those batter markets

My first reaction, when I saw the headline, was that welcome replaces had joined a big ask in the pantheon of heroic nominalizations. But not yet, apparently.

[Hat tip to Jeffrey Reeder.]


  1. Karen said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 6:27 am

    Ummm… sentence case (losing the capital R on "Replaces") would also have a lot.

    "Honduras Roster Move: Welcome In, Costly Out"?

  2. Bob Lieblich said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 6:50 am

    My own favorite: "Hazard Low on Sharp Wing." The Hazard Construction Company had submitted the low bid to construct a new wing for the Sharp Memorial Hospital (in San Diego). IANMTU. (This goes back almost fifty years; I think the entire building has since been torn down for a new one.)

  3. Faldone said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 7:09 am

    I'm glad I finally read the post. I was going crazy (not a long trip) trying to figure out what Welcome Replaces Costly for Honduras could possibly mean.

  4. hsgudnason said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 8:07 am

    I'm waiting for the inevitable crash blossom concerning the new president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan.

  5. Don Monroe said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 8:29 am

    There have been a lot of confusing sports headlines about "Arenas," meaning the basketball player Gilbert Arenas, not multiple stadia.

  6. Steve F said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 9:01 am

    Proper names which sound the same as common nouns are a rich source of confusion and also comedy. I am possibly not the only British reader who is reminded of a famous radio commentatory during a cricket match between England and the West Indies, when Peter Willey was facing the bowling of Michael Holding, and the commentator was heard to remark 'And so the bowler's Holding the batsman's Willey' – though American readers may need to remind themselves of the British English connotation of 'willy' to appreciate the joke. It may also help if you are fourteen years old, as I was at the time…

  7. Cecily said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 9:12 am

    The BBC's RSS feed had this on Friday,
    "Bird to direct fourth Impossible",
    which had me baffled, till I realised the first word was a proper name and not merely capitalised as the first word of a sentence.

    It was reporting that "Brad Bird, director of Pixar hit The Incredibles, is to helm the fourth Mission: Impossible film". The article is now titled "Incredibles' Bird to direct fourth Mission: Impossible".

  8. David said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 9:45 am

    Today at BBC: "Ex-editor prank call protest fine". ( It's basically just one long compounded noun: a fine has been handed out to an ex-editor (of the Daily Telegraph) for his protest (consisting in not paying his TV licence) against a prank call (made by BBC's Jonathan Ross).

  9. Matthew Kehrt said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 10:40 am

    My father, for unrelated reasons, has a framed copy of the cover of an issue of Newsday, a New York area newspaper, from the late forties. One of the headlines on the cover is "Pick Schoolman to Buck Macy", which I have found utterly baffling all my life. The current theory, I think, is that this is a political endorsement of one Schoolman in a race against one Macy.

  10. Jonathan Badger said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 10:52 am

    @Bob Lieblich
    Is this use of "Hazard" responsible for the "Hazard Center" mall in San Diego? I'm relatively new to Southern California and haven't quite gotten the courage to go shopping somewhere that sounds life-threatening.

  11. kuri said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 11:14 am

    I thought the headline might mean "Honduras used to be an expensive place to visit, but now it's much more welcoming."

  12. Boris said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

    I was thinking, by just looking at the headline that "welcome is the new costly", maybe people's attitude change toward something. Previously they thought it was too costly, but now they welcome it.

  13. Dan T. said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

    The image I get is of some natural disaster in Honduras blowing away all of the welcome mats, which are costly to replace.

  14. Rick said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 4:06 pm

    "Welcome Replaces Costly for Honduras"

    It's perfectly clear…

    Honduras used to be known as an expensive, unfriendly place to vacation. But with the downturn of the worldwide economy, tourism is down, so the Honduran tourist industry has drastically cut prices and given their employees training on how to make their guests feel at home.

  15. fucius pratum said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

    "Honduras welcome Welcome but it costs them Costly."

  16. Bloix said,

    May 11, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

    Who's on First?

  17. Daniel Barkalow said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 1:14 am

    It took me over a decade after seeing it in a book to figure out what "British Left Waffles On Falklands" was supposed to convey. Of course, that was due to lacking the necessary historical and political understanding to interpret the intended meaning, but I just assumed for years that it was some sort of typographical error, since it seemed unambiguously ridiculous.

  18. D.O. said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 3:01 am

    @Daniel Barkalow: Not so fast. Falklands Pinguins story, though not less ridiculous, was considered real.

  19. Ginger Yellow said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    "I thought the headline might mean "Honduras used to be an expensive place to visit, but now it's much more welcoming.""

    That was my reading too, after a bit of head scratching. It even fits with the sort of soft news stories the NYT often likes to publish.

    Also, I don't agree that the wordplayers "gave up". Certainly for the News of the World, I'm sure they were delighted by the wordplay possibilities. We're talking about a newspaper that shamelessly puns on every sporting name it can, no matter how tenuous.

  20. DyspepticSceptic said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 5:52 am

    "Costly Replacement for Welcome", surely?

  21. World Cup 2010 — Group H « ••• BOLAS & BANDEIRAS ••• said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 7:57 am

    […] front, as we learn from this grammatically-extraordinary headline, Carlo Costly is not available! Cagliari legend David Suazo and the ancient ex-Napoli striker […]

  22. Chad said,

    March 6, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

    Yeah, this one's a double-whammy. At first glance, it appears to be "adjective verb adjective preposition noun", and when you realize that that construction makes no sense, anyone experienced in parsing crash blossoms knows that headline writers hate verbs and if something doesn't seem to make sense, try reading what looks like a verb as a noun and assuming that the actual verb is an unspoken are/is: Welcome replaces (are/will be) costly for Honduras. This makes even less sense than before, and it turns out that the verb is, for once, actually a verb, and the problem is that not one but BOTH of the "adjectives" are actually proper nouns, and this is the rare headline that is actually a grammatically correct sentence but this fact is obscured by a "Who's On First?" naming scheme.

RSS feed for comments on this post