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Brit noun pile heds: "Crown" edition

While traveling in the UK, Nancy Friedman spotted the tabloid headline "CROWN DIANA CRASH OUTRAGE" on the front page of The Sun. "Crash blossoms," as we've often discussed here on Language Log, are headlines that are so ambiguously phrased that they suggest alternate (comical) readings. (The headline that gave "crash blossoms" their name appeared in […]

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Belfast noun pile headline head-scratcher

This head-scratcher of a headline from the Belfast Telegraph was brought to our attention by Mike Pope: "Ed Murray: Sex abuse claim US mayor's time in Northern Ireland 'should be probed'".

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Noun pile of the week

"Corpse sex kill threat prisoner gets 45 year sentence", BBC 12/14/2016. This is a case where even after reading the story, the structure is unclear. Is it [[[corpse sex] [kill threat]] prisoner] ? Or [[[corpse [sex kill]] threat]] prisoner] ? Or has the BBC decided, in this post-truth era, to go post-syntax as well? Philip […]

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Noun pile history

From Alon Lischinsky: In "Brit noun pile heds quizzed" (3/5/2009), you wondered when did British news media start writing headlines as long, complex noun compounds. While I have nothing resembling a clear answer, I've just noticed that it must go back to the 1930s at least. In "The Professor's Manuscript", one of the stories published […]

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Noun pile of the week

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 […]

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Sweat dance plugs noun pile

Katia Dmitrieva, "Madonna addicted to sweat dance plugs Toronto condos: Mortgages", Bloomberg News 1/10/2014 — Reader CD, a hardened journalistic veteran, calls this "a rare American noun pile headline": It’s a spectacular garden path which turns out to be a noun pile. I’m pretty good at parsing headlinese but I had no idea what the […]

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Argus Noun Pile Head Collection Notice

Joe Manfre writes: I was looking through a Flickr group celebrating the always sensationalist headlines for the Argus newspaper in Brighton and Hove,  and in it I found a few pretty good noun piles: FIREWORKS BLAZE BOSS VERDICT HOVE GARDEN POND CLASH – PICTURE BLAZE DEATH MURDER QUIZ DOG KNIFE KILLING VERDICT BRIGHTON COCKROACH CURRY […]

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Noun pile for the ages

…submitted by Jesse Sheidlower: "China Ferrari sex orgy death crash".

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Brit noun pile head hoard win

Emma Little, "Fish foot spa virus bombshell", The Sun, 10/18/2011. [h/t John Coleman]

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Coin change 'skin problem fear' hed noun pile puzzle

SC, a native reader of British headlinese, was baffled by the noun pile-up "Coin change 'skin problem fear'" on the BBC News web site, because he hadn't previously encountered the story.

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Microsoft tech writing noun pile blog post madness!

Fans of noun piles will enjoy the recent blog post by Mike Pope, a technical editor at Microsoft, "Fun (or not) with noun stacks." Mike shares a few of the lovely compound noun pileups he's encountered on the job: data bound control table row action links failed password security question answer attempts limit reduced minimum […]

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Eight word BBC headline noun pile construction

Ian Preston reports this British headline word pile construction noun phrase length gem: "Ben Douglas Bafta race row hairdresser James Brown 'sorry'". Ian's construal: I usually have no trouble decoding these but this latest BBC example challenged me: Ben Douglas Bafta race row hairdresser James Brown 'sorry'. That's eight nouns in a row, four of […]

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BBC Brit head noun pile win

Chris Dammers writes to point out a classic British headline noun pile-up on the BBC's news index page, "Sack rape row Clarke – Miliband":

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