Another garden path

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…this one in a headline — Toby Helm, "Sadiq Khan: 'Free young people from Brexit work and travel ban", The Guardian 1/20/2024.

Philip Taylor, who sent in the link, wrote:

I read it five times as ‘Free young people from (Brexit work) and (travel ban)’ before finally realising that it had to be parsed as ‘Free young people from ((Brexit work and travel) ban)’.

I believe that this is what Philip's mistaken reading was:

In other words, freeing the young people from Brexit work (whatever that is) and  (also) from (some sort of) travel ban.

Turning back from the garden path still leaves it open whether the intended structure is this:

i.e. freeing them a ban on "Brexit work and travel" — a phrase that's at least as puzzling as "Brexit work".

Or this:

i.e. freeing the youngs from a Brexit-caused ban on (European) work and travel. Which makes sense, at least from this side of the Atlantic…

The obligatory screenshot:


  1. Terry K. said,

    January 21, 2024 @ 5:01 pm

    Extra bonus, I first read the first three words reading free as an adjective: young people you can acquire without paying for (jóvenes gratis). Though it was, thankfully, easy to figure out that's wrong before reading on and getting the same misreading Philip Taylor did before working out a more likely parsing.

  2. Coby said,

    January 21, 2024 @ 7:13 pm

    Brexit work-and-travel ban resolves it.

  3. Ross Presser said,

    January 21, 2024 @ 11:16 pm

    The thing that young people should become free of is some kind of ban on working or travelling outside the UK, and these duall bans are in place sure to Brexit legal requirements.

  4. lemur said,

    January 22, 2024 @ 5:54 am

    Along the lines Terry K. mentioned, there is (though perhaps not without a modicum of willfulness) the even denser garden path of "Free, young people" (ie young people who are free, in either the economic or political sense) "from Brexit" (as if Brexit is a place or a condition that people can be "from") "work and travel ban" (working the ban and traveling the ban is something that the young free people from Brexit are doing)

  5. Yerushalmi said,

    January 22, 2024 @ 8:45 am

    I agree with Coby. Even if they insist on not making their sentences clearer, a lot of these UK headlines would be more sensible if they rediscovered the existence of the hyphen.

  6. Isaac Grosof said,

    January 22, 2024 @ 10:35 pm

    I misread this title as ((Free young people) from Brexit) work and travel, and then ran headlong into the final "ban". In other words, I misread it as "Young people who are free due to Brexit are working and traveling", but 'ban' couldn't fit into that interpretation.

  7. J.W. Brewer said,

    January 23, 2024 @ 8:07 pm

    I don't know whether this is the fault of the Observer or of Mr. Khan, but there is in fact no post-Brexit "travel ban" for people of any age — e.g. a holder of a UK passport can presently enter and remain in France (or any other "Schengen" country) for 90 days out of any 180 without a visa and a holder of a French passport at least approximately ditto for travel to the UK w/o a passport – just as holders of either French or UK passports can generally visit the US visa-free and US passport holders can visit those countries ditto. Maybe they could have written a better headline if they weren't trying to mischaracterize the situation.

    (What has changed is that the holder of e.g. a French passport can no longer unilaterally decide to turn travel to the U.K. into permanent residence or the right to work in the U.K. – those require permission under U.K. immigration law just as would be the case for the holder of a U.S. passport wishing to reside permanently and/or work in the U.K.)

  8. ajay said,

    February 6, 2024 @ 10:55 am

    Me, a Brit: I want to spend six months travelling and working in Europe.
    The EU: You can't.
    JW Brewer: How dare you call this a "ban"!

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