Today's Crash Blossom

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From the Guardian's front page:

The linked story is here.

Bob Ladd, who sent it in, wrote:

It's been a while since you've run a crash blossom.

Since I was unaware that there was a "missing Burnley woman" in the news, I spent at least a second or two wondering why it was against the law to fail to show for someone's murder.


  1. Gregory Kusnick said,

    April 28, 2022 @ 10:12 am

    I missed it too. Do I need a lawyer?

  2. Ed M said,

    April 28, 2022 @ 3:28 pm

    Was the man in court when he missed the murder? Or perhaps he was in a court where everyone present missed the murder?

  3. David Morris said,

    April 28, 2022 @ 3:31 pm

    I had no trouble finding the correct reading and some trouble finding the incorrect one. I know that missing a murder is not a criminal offence. To me the ambiguity is whether he had already been charged and was in court for that purpose, or was charged while he was in court for some other purpose.

    One of Agatha Christie's novels is 'A murder is announced'. Don't miss it.

  4. AntC said,

    April 28, 2022 @ 5:07 pm

    To me the ambiguity is whether he had already been charged and was in court for that purpose, or was charged while he was in court for some other purpose.

    Yes there's also that. Like the man was in court for some other purpose, and got charged with murder by coincidence.

    BBC has "Man in court charged with murder of missing woman".

    'Man on bicycle charged with speeding.' Doesn't mean he was on the bicycle at the time of getting charged. That'd be 'Man on bicycle arrested for speeding.'

    Is "Man in court charged with …" common phrasing? Googling finds this case and one in Melbourne, Australia; oh and a "Second man in court charged with …". I think I'd put "Man charged in court with …" — there's plenty of those on Google.

  5. M. said,

    April 29, 2022 @ 4:03 am

    Another crash blossom: "Professor Burns Leaves on Commencement Day."

  6. Philip Taylor said,

    April 29, 2022 @ 5:02 am

    "Professor Burns Leaves on Commencement Day" — yet another demonstration of why title case should be used with moderation and with careful observance of its traditional rules. If I could, I would set my e-mail spam filter to mark as spam any message which (ab)uses titles case for the "Subject: " field.

  7. Alexander Browne said,

    April 29, 2022 @ 10:05 am

    Not a crash blossom, but a headline that confused me recently was the BBC's "Israeli PM to pay for family's food after criticism". No syntactic ambiguity, but it did not come to my mind that they were referring to his own family, so I clicked to open the article to find out what family he was criticized for not paying for food for!

  8. Robert Coren said,

    April 29, 2022 @ 10:16 am

    The "wrong" interpretation did come up first in my mind, but it didn't last long; the correct one is pretty obvious. As crash blossoms go, this is a mere fender-bender bud.

  9. Philip Taylor said,

    May 1, 2022 @ 8:20 am

    [OT, ethics]. Watching a television set in a restaurant yesterday, I saw on-screen a photograph of a young woman who had been murdered, and I was convinced that I has seen it previously. Re-visiting Language Log on my return home, I realised that I had seen her face here, at the very top of this thread. When reading the thread initially, my mind been solely on the linguistic matters under discussion, but having seen the young woman's face on the television I now realise for the first time that she has been murdered. I am therefore forced to wonder (and to ask) whether it is really appropriate to include here the photograph of someone who has recently been murdered in a thread that focusses not on her murder but on something which pales into complete insignificance in comparison — a so-called "crash blossom". And I cannot help but think that it is not appropriate, and that her face should have been edited out, as a sign of respect both to her and to her family and friends.

  10. Andrew Usher said,

    May 1, 2022 @ 10:39 pm

    I can't see that as an issue. With respect, her face had already been made public, to many times more people than will see it here. And as it is an image, clipping it out would have taken some effort. Clearly nothing was meant by posting the picture other than illustrating the exact wording in the newspaper, something done regularly here. It is surely true that the linguistic issue is comparatively trivial to the murder but no such comparison is being made and none should be inferred.

    As for the actual headline, I would never be misled but would think the word order strange; it suggests that a man 'in court' for some other reason just happened to be charged with murder – I'd expect 'Man charged in court with …' or even 'Man charged with … in court'.

    k_over_hbarc at yahoo dot com

  11. Robert Coren said,

    May 2, 2022 @ 9:55 am

    @Andrew Usher: Wouldn't 'Man charged with … in court' risk implying that "in court" was where the offense was alleged to have occurred?

  12. Alexander Browne said,

    May 3, 2022 @ 2:37 pm

    Just seen on Reuters: "Taiwan flags risk of Stinger missile delays, says pressing U.S." I had to read it several times before I realized "flags" wasn't a noun.

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