Noun pile of the week

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Well, almost: Mark Kinver, "Citizen science charts horse chestnut tree pest spread", BBC News 1/24/2014. Though charts might have been a plural noun, it's clearly a verb in this case, alas. The headline writer missed the chance for a genuine 8-element noun pile, e.g. "Citizen science horse chestnut tree pest spread tally".

Still, British headline interpretation continues to be good practice for reading classical Chinese poetry.

The obligatory screenshot:

[h/t to Bill Burns]


  1. J.W. Brewer said,

    January 25, 2014 @ 8:45 am

    Just yesterday my facebook feed was abuzz with people talking about the Daily Mirror hed "Ghost ship crewed only by cannibal rats feared to be heading for Britain," whereas I was disappointed by its conventional syntactic structure. Why not CANNIBAL RAT CREW GHOST SHIP FEAR, I wondered? I couldn't quite figure out a way to get a ROW into it, however.

    [(myl) Come now, it's easy: "Ghost ship cannibal rat crew fear row buzz", or etc.]

  2. Victor Mair said,

    January 25, 2014 @ 11:00 am

    "…good practice for reading classical Chinese poetry."

    See if you can sport any verb in this famous poem by the Yuan (Mongol period) poet, Ma Zhiyuan (ca. 1250-1321). I have given simple, one-word glosses for each character. The first line is the title, consisting of the tune to which it was sung and the theme of the poem.


    “Tiān jìng shā · qiū sī”《天净沙·秋思》 heaven pure sand autumn thought

    Kū téng lǎo shù hūn yā 枯藤老树昏鸦 withered vine old tree dusk crow

    Xiǎo qiáo liú shuǐ rén jiā 小桥流水人家 little bridge flowing water person home

    Gǔ dào xī fēng shòu mǎ 古道西风瘦马 old road west wind skinny horse

    Xī yáng xi xià 夕阳西下 evening sun west down

    Duàn cháng rén zài tiān yá. 断肠人在天涯 broken intestine (i.e., heart) person at heaven margin

  3. naddy said,

    January 25, 2014 @ 11:49 am

    In the BBC's RSS feed, the headline is "People power charts tree pest spread". I locked on to "power" as the verb and couldn't make sense of the rest.

  4. Mark Mandel said,

    January 25, 2014 @ 3:27 pm

    For a moment I thought your hat-tip was to Robert Burns, whose birthday it is. Listen to "A Man's A Man For A' That",* and raise a glass.

    In the interests of staying on topic for LL, if not the thread, this is guid Scots AFAICT.

    * sung by Old Blind Dogs (YouTube 4:35). Audio, with lyrics in the video and glosses in the description ("Show more").

  5. Tino said,

    January 25, 2014 @ 3:58 pm

    Mmm, pest spread.

  6. JQ said,

    January 25, 2014 @ 4:36 pm

    下 and 在 are verbs.. ish.

  7. Dan b said,

    January 25, 2014 @ 5:12 pm

    Hopefully not too of topic, the screenshot of that article also includes this fun sentence:
    "A tree infested with the caterpillars of the non-native moth tunnel through leaves, causing them to turn autumnal brown, even in the middle of summer."

  8. richardelguru said,

    January 27, 2014 @ 6:57 am

    Will no one think of the conkers?!?!!!!

  9. Ginger Yellow said,

    January 27, 2014 @ 7:54 am

    Wonks go conker bonkers.

  10. Livre d'Or said,

    February 6, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

    I was pointed to "Rob Ford beating claims merit police probe, lawyer says" here, which is Canadian, not British. It's eight nouns in a row except that "merit" (like "charts") has to be a verb if you parse the sentence as it was intended. Anyway when I blogged this I was recommended to add the example to this thread, so here you go.

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